by Rudy Ravindra
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
Dr. Mead hugged him. “Welcome back! How was your vacation? Did you have a good time?”
Ganesh said, “Oh, it was okay. My folks wanted me to get married.” He winced. “I couldn’t face another arranged marriage. But my mom isn’t happy. I hated to disappoint her.” He shook his head.
She patted him. “I know, I know, it’s hard to keep our parents happy. But you did the right thing not to rush into another marriage. Marriage, ah, um, is such an overrated institution.”
“But, Dr. Mead, you are married, right?”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Many times I wish I’d remained single. Oh, well, lemme show you around.” She led the way to a huge noisy room with sophisticated instruments: spectrophotometers, radioactive counters, and centrifuges. “This is the common instrument room.” She walked out into the hallway and peeped into a glass-enclosed facility. “The whole area is clean, for tissue culture, laminar flow hoods, incubators, all state-of-the-art.”
“Dr. Mead, where is everybody? Where is Barbara and that guy John?”
“They stayed back in Cleveland, didn’t want to move away from their families. Don’t worry, we will hire new people. You will be the lab manager.”
He had a sardonic smile. “Not much to manage though, Dr. Mead.” He looked at the stacks of sealed boxes.
“Ganesh, isn’t about time you call me Julia? How long have we worked together, huh?”
With a sheepish smile, “It’s a cultural thing, you know. In India we’re taught to respect our teachers.”
“But now you are no longer my student. You are my colleague, okay?”
* * *
In due course, Ganesh set up the lab, hired a few technicians and trained them. Soon the lab was productive and a few of the hundreds of compounds synthesized in the lab proved to be potent chemotherapeutic agents, at least in the initial biological tests.
One day, when he walked into her office, Ganesh was shocked to see Julia sobbing silently, tears pouring down her freckled cheeks.
“Julia, are you okay?”
She composed herself. “It’s nothing, it’s nothing.” She wiped her cheeks.
“Come on, let’s go get a cup of coffee.”
They grabbed their coffee and walked into the quiet garden, an oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle.
“What’s the matter, Julia? I have never seen you in such a state.”
She started to cry, “I kicked Tommy out. I should have done it long ago. But I hoped, I really hoped” — sniff, sniff — “to see him and that broad, our bed, our own bed,” sniff, sniff. “That shameless lowlife, he promised, he promised...” Tears streamed out of her eyes and she choked up.
Ganesh hugged her. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s like he’s addicted.” Again she buried her face on his shoulder, shedding more tears.
In a little while, she composed herself. “Sorry, didn’t mean to bother you with my personal problems.”
“No, not at all. What are friends for?”
* * *
When Ganesh was about to close his computer for the day, Julia peeped in. “Hey, Ganesh, are you in a mood for a quiet weekend, you know, escape the hustle and bustle?”
“I’d love to, Julia. But this weekend, ah, I was planning to write up that report you wanted—”
She waved dismissively. “That can wait. You work too hard.”
* * *
Julia drove her red roadster with the top down, and sang along to a Katy Perry song on the radio:
I got the eye of the tiger, dancing through the fire
’Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder than a lion
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Ro-oar, Ro-oar, Ro-oar, Ro-oar, Ro-oar
Ganesh was pleased to see that Julia was back to her fun-loving ways. After driving for a few hours on the I-5, Julia pulled into a quiet neighborhood near Santa Barbara.
She parked in front of a small house and jumped out and stretched. “Welcome to my hideaway. I come here whenever I want to get away from it all. Tomorrow we will go for a hike in the nearby hills. The view from up there is simply breathtaking, um, all that blue water and the sailboats.”
She opened the front door and dropped her bag in the foyer. “It’s too late to start cooking now. Are you okay with pizza?” She whipped out her cell phone from her bag and ordered. “I’m gonna have a quick shower. Oh, your room is this way.” She walked down the hall to a room facing the back yard. “Okay, freshen up.”
Back in the living room, he was astounded at the way she looked, as he never, in all those years, had seen her so sexy and desirable. Smelling of her signature gardenia perfume, she was in a lacy, low rise thong and a sheer, skimpy bra and high heels. Her freshly shampooed hair was still a little wet, her luscious lips pink, and her beautiful face devoid of makeup, not that she needed any.
“Ganesh! You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” She laughed and pirouetted. Her straight back and delectable derriere were no less inviting. She held out her arms. “Come to me, my sweet boy. It’s time to end your misery.” She kissed him.
In the morning, he caressed the nubile maiden who rested on his chest. Her freckled, alabaster skin was almost transparent, with prominent veins in her temples. Last night had been like a dream, and his unbridled lust was at long last quenched.
His fervent hopes that a chaste hug might morph into an ardent embrace, a peck on the cheek might turn into a passionate kiss, a hand on her shoulder might descend to her bewitching bosom, now were fulfilled. The cravings that were dormant now blossomed, and the suppressed tension was released, just like water gushing out of the floodgates of a dam. Now he tasted her wet kisses, moved in unison with her, and made her purr, moan, groan, and writhe.
She pushed hair away from her eyes and poked him in his tummy.
His hands wandered all over her lush curves. “Thank you, Julia.”
She laughed. “I wondered when you would make a move. My God, the way you’d ogle me when you thought I wasn’t looking, um, you are so meek!”
* * *
One evening when he was at Julia’s house, the doorbell rang. Since she was cooking, Ganesh opened the door, and a big, burly man stormed in. “You bitch! Now you want a divorce? Why didn’t you have the nerve to talk face to face?”
Ganesh yelled, “Hey! You! Don’t talk like that!”
The man looked contemptuously at Ganesh. “You butt out of this, you puny punk! One punch, you’ll be knocked out cold!” Turning to Julia: “So, I see, now you are fucking this pygmy!” He laughed loudly and grabbed a beer from the fridge.
Julia said, “Tommy, I want you to leave now. It’s best if we communicate through my attorney.”
He took a big gulp. “No, it ain’t that easy to get rid of me, baby doll. I’m gonna spend the night with you. Tell this here your lover to get the hell out. I can’t believe you stooped to his kind!”
Julia quickly drew a Beretta from a drawer and pointed at Tommy. “Get out now! Don’t tempt me!”
“You bitch! You gonna shoot me? Lemme teach me you a lesson.” He lunged at her.
But she was too fast. He winced, dropped the cracked bottle, held his bleeding hand, and hurled obscenities. Beer and blood spilled all over the kitchen floor.
Julia said calmly, “Now it’s only your hand. Next time it will be your head.”
* * *
Ganesh wanted much more than their sporadic couplings. He wanted to wake up with her in the same bed and relive the passionate kisses and caresses of the previous night. He wanted continuity and companionship. He wanted marriage. He wanted kids. He wanted stability.
She laughed whenever he proposed. “I just got through a lousy marriage. I’m in no mood for another. Really, I’m not crazy about marriage. I like things the way they are now. But, sugar pie, why don’t you find yourself a good woman to give you kids? There are a lot of single women out there.”
He said plaintively, “But I love you, Julia. I want you, no one else. Please marry me. I will be good to you.”
She kissed him. “Lover boy, don’t spoil it. Let’s enjoy what we have. Okay?”
* * *
His frustration with Julia, who was only too eager to bed him but not betroth, was building like steam in a pressure cooker.
However, he continued to be at Julia’s beck and call. At a moment’s notice, he would drop everything to be with her, to smell her fragrant auburn hair, to kiss her moist lips, and to pay homage to her sensual body. To be with Julia whose moans, groans, screams, scratches, and nibbles never failed to propel him to the pinnacles of pleasure. To be with Julia, who believed that a real woman should be a whore in the bedroom.
But, alas, this pleasure was sporadic and short-lived, and soon he was back to pining away for her. After each and every rendezvous, he fervently pleaded with her to marry him. And each time she broke his heart.
* * *
They were enjoying a post-coital glass of red wine in bed.
“Do you love me, Julia?”
“Of course, I do. Why do you ask such a dumb question?”
“B-b-but you refuse to marry me. Why, Julia? I love you, you love me. What’s the hitch?”
“Sweetie pie, be realistic. Your parents won’t approve of me, and my folks are old-fashioned, they... they won’t be happy if I marry a foreigner.”
“I see, I see, you mean they won’t be thrilled with a colored son-in-law, huh?”
Julia looked uncomfortable. “You know I’m not like that.” She sighed deeply and snuggled up to him and kissed his chest. “Baby, do we want our folks to be unhappy?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know. Call me old-fashioned. If we can’t get married, I’d better go back to Bangalore.”
Julia jumped out of bed and screamed. “What the hell! You worked so hard. You discovered so many fantastic compounds. You know, one day our patents will make us real rich, you will be a millionaire! Now you want to give it all up.”
“I don’t care. You keep the money.”
* * *
After a vigorous jog around the Sankey tank track, Ganesh sat in the park to seek solace from the surroundings: bird songs and bees and butterflies flitting from one bright flower to another. A white-throated kingfisher landed on a fig tree to nibble on a ripe fig. A black bird swooped down to the rippling waters and snatched a fish and flew off with the struggling prey. His personal life in shambles, he felt as helpless as the poor fish.
On the brighter side, his parents were happy that he had returned home for good. His father was glad that he ran the factory and kept Santosh busy. Though his brother lacked knowledge of the intricate aspects of the precision equipment, his gift of gab charmed the clients. Now his father need not worry about day-to-day operations.
I never wanted to be an industrial magnate, Ganesh thought. Some people are born ambitious, some acquire ambition, and some have ambition forced down their throat. I belong to the last category.
His parents nagged him day after day to get married again. He shuddered at the thought of another arranged marriage. He politely refused each and every opportunity to meet yet another beautiful and highly educated woman.
Now that he was running a successful enterprise, many parents were ready to offer their daughters. He would rather remain single than get hitched to an unsuitable partner. Marriage to a woman he hardly knew, was at best, a gamble. In any case, no woman could hold a candle to his Julia. Oh, how he missed her.
“Is this seat taken?” asked a familiar voice who he thought was on the other side of the globe. He looked up. “Julia! What a pleasant surprise! No email, no text for a long time, and now you are here in the flesh.” He hugged and kissed her on the cheek. “So, you went to my house?”
“Yeah, your mom, she sent me in your family car. She said she would call you.” Julia looked great in blue jeans and a white T-shirt.
Ganesh laughed. “She knows where I am at any given time.” He looked at his cell phone. “Oh, it’s on vibration.”
Julia patted him. “Yeah, dude, you are still very predictable.”
“What brings you to our smog-filled city?”
“Wow! You spent all that money to see my ugly mug, huh?”
Julia ruffled his curly hair. “You are still cute.”
He assumed a sad face. “You know, first time you said I’m cute, I was totally devastated. Um... in my book ‘cute’ applies to babies, puppies, kitty cats, hm... not to a debonair and dashing guy like myself.” He sighed deeply.
“Ganesh, you are still funny. But, seriously, um... I need to tell you something, please don’t hate me, um... I don’t want to lose your friendship, okay?”
Ganesh said, “We had our ups and downs, b-b-but I can never hate you. I’ll always love you, no matter what.”
Julia had a faraway look. “See these pics.” She handed her iPhone.
He saw a little girl, starting from when she was a babe-in-arms, to crawling, to a toddler taking her first hesitant steps. “I love her dark curly hair. Wow, look at those big brown eyes. She’s cute, yeah, yeah, definitely cute, hm... Who is she?”
“She’s our daughter.”
“What? Oh! My God! That night before I got on the airplane to India?”
He screwed up his face. “I remember, protection was farthest from our minds. Oh, my God! My God! Why didn’t you tell me about her? Why keep it a secret?”
“When I got pregnant, it was a big surprise; of course, a very pleasant one. I took time to, ah, then nausea, vomiting, I couldn’t think straight. And then my parents, wanting to know who the father was. It was really a difficult time. I wasn’t sure, I just didn’t know what to do. I struggled, really struggled, to tell you or not, um... I wasn’t sure how you might react. I just wasn’t sure.”
“So, you just pop in, um... show me the pictures and then what?” He spoke in an uncharacteristic bitter tone.
“I’m sorry, very sorry, ah... I deprived you of seeing Lily grow up. But it’s not too late, I mean, if you like, you can be a part of her life.”
“How do you think this will work, I keep Lily for a few months, bring her back to California, ah... all this flying back and forth, do you think it’s practical, huh? What about your folks, where do they fit into this drama?”
Julia wiped her tears. “You have every right to be angry. I apologize for my behavior, I really do feel very terrible. Ganesh, my folks have come to terms with the situation. Perhaps, I misjudged them and their attitude towards other cultures. Yeah, they are fine with my decision.”
“And what’s your decision, Julia, to break my heart once again and fly away?”
Julia hissed, “How can you be so dense? Why would I fly some fifteen thousand miles, huh? Just to meet you, to tell you, oh by the way you are the father of my lovely daughter. See these pics, okay, you have seen them, now it’s goodbye.” She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
“So, you will marry me?”
She smiled. “Of course, you dumb man.”
He stood and helped her up. “Now, we gotta convince my parents. Isn’t it ironic: they’re gonna get a beef-eating Christian for a daughter-in-law?”
She laughed. “I have a hunch that your folks will be fine with us getting married. Your mom has already taken to Lily. I think your mom knows, ah... She’s very smart.”
“Oh! You brought Lily? I can’t wait to see her!”
Copyright © 2017 by Rudy Ravindra