There were around fifty women dancing before him, but he could hardly look at anyone else. When every other woman was evidently trying hard to appease him, the one in pink ghaghra choli seemed too lost in her dance. Only her dance was art, only her expressions were honest.
“Who is that woman, Madri?” he asked to the loyal royal servant who had been serving in the palace since a decade now.
“Gulabi ghaghre me sabse peechhe.”
“We will send for her.” Madri bowed like an obedient servant and left.
The dance went on for hours and there was no one else Raja sa had noticed. His queens sat on the floor below his and he could not have cared any less about them. Or did he even remember them or the world in that moment? The woman in pink was too mesmerising to even blink the eye. Her lean hands and curve of the waist – to touch them and kiss was all that he wanted. He wondered what her mist must be like. He wondered if she had thin lips and big eyes. Her hair, he noticed, fell below her hips. Tied neatly in a thick braid, he wondered how it will feel when he unties the braid and let those strands free, watching them fall on her bare body.
The music and people dissolved around him and he dreamt himself alone watching her dance with no other woman about her. He watched her hands sway and feet tap. He saw her veil fall, showing off her beautiful face and the curves of her breasts. She was looking at him. Biting her lower lips, she was saying something as if calling him close. She was now running her hands on her face and breasts. Her eyes were closed, and she seemed to enjoy herself. She turned, her back facing Raja sa. She was still dancing, and her hands were trying to unhook her choli and it finally fe…
“Raja sa”, Madri’s voice dragged him back to reality. It was harsh, and he was agitated.
“What is it?” he snapped.
“We have found out about this girl, hukum. Her name is Durga. She is one of the kanchanis.” Madri said hesitatingly. Raja sa’s temper confused him.
“Send her to my chambers after the dance”, Raja sa said firmly as if he was setting up a conference with the kings and ministers.
“Ji, Sarkar”, Madri bowed again and left, leaving his majesty alone with his tantalising reverie.
“Durga…ri chhori! Mhare gher chal. Bulawa aayo hai.” A woman called out loudly from somewhere on another end of the mob.
Durga was standing amongst women who she was dancing with not an hour ago. She hardly knew any of them. The palace was huge, and she was surrounded by unknown people. It felt a little lonely but she knew it was a part of the job now. She had given her second performance in front of the royal people. She couldn’t believe she made it even after being so nervous. Her veins were filled with happiness and pride. Durga couldn’t wait to go back and tell her friends that how beautiful the evening was. She was filled with all sorts of stories that she was going to narrate. The part where she lost herself in thoughts of Raja sa would carefully be omitted.
“Are you deaf, you imbecile?” grated a woman, breathing shallow as if she had been running. “I am shouting your name since last fifteen minutes.” her irritation was evident.
“I am sorry, I could not hear you over the voice of all the woman.” Durga said politely. “Why were you calling me?”
“Chal ab.” she gestured her hand forth and back, asking Durga to follow her.
“But, where are we going?”, Durga was a bit scared. She had no idea who the woman and where was she taking her. When she wasn’t answered, Durga decided to quietly follow the woman. She wasn’t too old, Durga observed, but she looked so. Her voice was sharp as the edge of a blade and her arms had marks as if from a whip.
Does she do this to herself or someone else does this to her? she wondered.
Maybe she got them while cooking.
“That’s it”, the woman turned abruptly. “We have reached”.
It was a big chamber. Durga saw women in beautiful dresses sitting, playing, and laughing. They were all beautiful. Long hair and flawless skin seemed to be a common trait in all.
“Sinduri, get her ready quickly. She is going to serve Raja sa himself.” the woman called out and a girl of about Durga’s age walked towards them.
“Ji, sa.” she said smiling and the woman turned around and left the chamber all at once.
Sinduri escorted Durga to the bathing room. “You are sweating, Durga.” she had told her. “You bath, and I will ready your clothes and jewelry in the meantime.” Sinduri said in her ever-soft tone.
The bathroom smelled like roses and sandalwood. The water was lukewarm and Durga knew it was going to be quite relaxing. She quickly stripped herself off those heavy clothes and slipped into the bathtub. It was indeed very relaxing. Durga could have fallen asleep inside. The dance, apprehensions, and people had worn her out. All she wanted was to go home and sleep. But, she had to get ready, Raja sa had sent for her.
“There won’t be any sleeping tonight.” she smiled and closed her eyes, reimagining the silhoutte of Raja sa. “I hope he has dark eyes.”
Sinduri had given her a dark cyan coloured lehenga choli with golden border and flowers embroidered on it. She wore kundals and a nath. A copper colored odhni veiled her face as she walked towards the chambers of Raja sa. There weren’t any bangles in her arms. A copper coloured necklace and matching maangtikka adorned her. She was smelling of mint and lavender. Her lips were stained brown and the kohl was reapplied. There was no flaw in her beauty when she finally entered his room.
She saw velvet curtains, coloured mirrors, and cushioned wooden chairs from under her veil. She heard the sound of footsteps. Someone was coming closer and she knew who it was. She stood there frozen with her eyes lowered, looking like a sculpture’s masterpiece.
The footsteps were beside her and she could see his feet. He was facing her. His arms looked strong and heavy. Raja sa unveiled her face, letting the odhni fall free. He held her chin softly and Durga finally lifted her eyes to look at his face. She saw his dark brown eyes gazing at her. They were deep but ambitious just like one would expect a ruler’s eyes to be. They held the gaze for a while looking at each other, measuring the other’s beauty. His long-elongated jawline and its rough beard; her lovely plump lips and sharp nose – the sight for both was splendid.
Lacing his hand through her hair, he untied her braid. The long hair embraced her naked waist which he cast away with a soft sway of his hands. His fingers ran from her waist to the neck, undoing the hooks of her blouse. Durga melted under his touch and savoured the perfume of his body. Sweaty and salty, his robe was all that stood between them. It didn’t take long for the robe to fall like petals from a flower.
He saw her standing bear with just the jewellery decorating the neck and ears. The sight of her bareness sent shiver in his spine and he felt arouse like never before. He wanted to kiss every inch of her body. The jewellery that decorated her was mere distraction, useless extras that ought to be discarded at once. He pulled the necklace so hard it broke in his palms. He was gentle with the earrings and mangtikka, making sure he doesn’t hurt her. She closed her eyes, feeling the goosebumps throughout. She had never felt this way before. She wanted him to be gentle yet not. She was melting at places she never knew she could. Her lips ached for his and the sensations between her thighs grew every second.
They were both sweating, breathing too hard. Passion ran through their veins and all they wanted was to be torn at the flesh, all they wanted to do was make love so ardently that even their own tongue would be ashamed the next morning.
The bed felt as if made of feathers as opposed to his rough skin that was above her. Her body hauled under his and she moaned so sweetly that he never wanted to stop. Their lips never parted until the dawn broke, until they finally fell asleep wrapped warmly in an embrace so close that he could feel her naked breasts rub against his chest every time he breathed in.
Asleep, they dreamed of loving each other more until the moon faded behind the blinding light of the sun.