A Small Love Story

A Small Love Story

by Mr. A_B

1st August 2007

Indian Bollywood film actress Katrina Ka

It has been a week since I first saw her. I still remember that first sight of her. She was draped in gracious white veils covering her face down to her shoulders, tied smugly over her face. I could see the faint impression of her lips as she turned. She was wearing a green sari that day with arm length satin gloves. Every inch of her body was covered.. not even her eyes could be seen because of her white under-veil covering her eyes.  I still remember that day when I was swept off my feet.

There was definitely something special in this woman, was it her walk? Was it her style or grace with which she carried herself? Or was it the way she was veiled. The women of Punyanagri usually veil themselves, but there was something so perfect about this girl and her double-veil. For the first time in my life have I felt like this. My friends tell me it’s a mere infatuation and that it will pass, they advise me I shouldn’t get distracted too much by someone I don’t know..

But I had to approach her, I had to make sense of my feelings, I had to meet her in person, get to know her. I just had to say ‘Hi’ to her! Today I had my chance. In the evening I saw her walking in her veils, wearing what I suppose is her evening wear, a salwar suit with matching pyjamas. She was heading towards the park nearby. I was catching up with her but just when I was about to greet her, bad luck struck and my cell phone rang. It was my mother on the call and I couldn’t hang up and neither would she stop talking. 10 minutes had passed and I had lost my chance… She had  walked away and I couldn’t see her. I didn’t have the courage that day to follow her into the park.  But I knew this wouldn’t be my last chance at her.

17th August 2007

More than 2 weeks had passed since my last encounter. I would stand each day, every day on the balcony of my apartment looking towards her balcony across the street. Luckily, her apartment in the opposite block was at the same height as mine. I could look at it directly through a gap in the foliage of the trees which lined our street. For the last 2 weeks I hadn’t seen her walking out much, I couldn’t get the chance to meet her. The security guards at the society gate prevented me from coming in. The delay only added to my mounting frustrations. The heat wasn’t helping either.

Summer had come to Punyanagari, and almost all women of the city would wear enveloping scarfs over their faces to block out the heat and dust of the Indian summer. It was the time when the ashok trees blossom with their unique soft scented flowers. The soft wind makes it even more pleasurable. But none of this could please me now…. not without seeing the veiled girl next door. But today something quite different happened, one that I had not expected. I visited my college as usual in the afternoon session. I made my way to the office for some pending paper work, where lo and behold! It was her! At first I could mistake her for anyone else but unmistakably, it was her! The same veil and the same figure .. and the same dress as I had found 2 weeks back. The blue salwar which she wore for her walk to the park. By the looks of it I guessed she was trying to get admission to our college and take care of some paper work. She was accompanied with an apparently elderly couple who I presumed must be her parents.

The thought of meeting her at my own college had me elated! We could finally meet! I enquired with the staff who was managing her papers, he told me she was getting admitted to the law college at our campus. I was pursuing the B-Com course at our college and our classes would sit in different buildings within the same campus, but it didn’t matter. She was in our college, and I could finally meet up with her! The thought had me excited and I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day ….

24th August 2007

It had been 6 days now since I saw her at the office. I still haven’t been able to see her in the college campus. I presumed it must be because she would be joining late. I guessed she would be an outsider to the city, so it would make sense that she’d take time settling in her new apartment. Day by day my excitement grew.. and more and more I felt that inexplicable euphoria which lovers must feel when they meet their soulmate. But wait! … was I truly in love? .. were these feelings really “love”? .. perhaps I was getting ahead of myself… or perhaps not.. but what was certain is that there were certain feelings running deep in me and I had to make sense of these. I had to meet this mysterious woman who has captivated my imaginations and robbed me of my mental peace. Today I almost had that moment.

Blame the heat or blame the custom of Punyanagari women to veil themselves, but I almost missed her completely because every female student at the college gate was covered in similar veils. I hadn’t realized that the eye-veil wouldn’t be accepted by the college authorities and it would interfere with riding her scooty, that she would come without it. All female law students had a near identical uniform of black dupatta and pyjama and a white salwar suit. When they’d leave the campus or enter it almost all of them would have their faces covered with the black dupatta and wear large sunglasses.

It was easy to lose sight of anyone in the crowd of these girls. But I could see one figure who was unmistakably the girl next door. That figure, that style of walking and what’s more .. she had two layers of veils covering her face and I could see a thin outline of a white scarf under her black veil. That day I saw for a brief moment her enchanting eyes before she put on her goggles and helmet and got ready to ride off. I managed to catch her before she rode off on her scooty.. but alas! .. I could only say “hi” and nothing more … her reply was only a brief “yes?”. I struggled to think of what to say before she left. Before I could say anything she was on her way out. But for a brief second I managed to spot her id card which every student had to carry and her name was written on it. There it was that I learnt the name of my dream-girl. Her name was Aarti. Her voice was as sweet and enchanting as her eyes. I was convinced beyond doubt of her beauty beneath those veils. But the veils only made her more beautiful and more enchanting… more alluring. The next few days I would make my next moves, this time I wouldn’t lose her.

27th August 2007

It was perhaps the longest weekend I have spent.. I couldn’t see Aarti for the last 3 days. Curse this Monday vacation! For the first time.. I find myself cursing an extended vacation! Not only that, but actually longing to go back to College! It was strange, yet it was true. I had changed. The Tuesday this week would be special, now I was sure of my chance to meet her and talk with her. But fate it seems had other plans. Not that I would not be able to have my long awaited conversation, but that it would be taken to a wholly different level. Earlier this year I had joined the economics cell, where students of both law and B-Com could participate. To my surprise I saw Aarti there. It was easy to make out it was her as she was the only veiled student in the class! This day research teams would be made from one law student and one B-Com student to make a presentation for our internal evaluation. I was paired with Aarti. I couldn’t have asked for better! This was the opportunity I was searching for and now …. I was given much more than I had bargained for. In the coming days we will have to discuss and talk and for the next month we’ll have to cooperate over the assignment. This was perfect for bonding together.

15th September 2007

It’s been more than two weeks since we started on the assignment. Aarti and I have bonded wonderfully since then. Though, most of our conversations have so far been on the subject of our presentation thus far. I’ve discovered she likes classical music, history and the arts. It seemed strange that someone like her would join commerce given her world view. She also has a liking to riding and driving. Whenever she’d get the chance she’d ride me on her scooty just for the ride. Punyanagari’s traffic was her only real peeve but the roads were fine. I also learnt that she was an outsider and her family migrated here from the Punjab. In fact she is a Punjabi! …. I have heard from people that the women of that region are exceptionally beautiful and now it seems confirmed. I have also heard that they live under extremely strict male dominated environment.  Throughout our time however, she would never show her face. There was a cold side to her as well, whenever I’d ask her about her family and future plans she’d try to sidetrack the conversation and avoid talking about her family background or life back in the Punjab. There was something that kept troubling her and I could sense her suppressed emotions whenever I’d see her eyes, there was a sorrow to it which I couldn’t explain. But as long as she and I were together and worked, I could see her happy and forget her sorrows. I think good things are in store for the two of us.

17th September 2007

It was a weekend day again and I decided to meet up with Aarti. Our presentation was nearing completion and I needed to see her draft for presentation. She was indeed adroit and brilliant, managing to finish off so much so soon. I would have thought today’d be uneventful for the most part.. but I did not prepare for what was in store for me that day. I was about to enter Aarti’s apartment but before I could open the door, Aarti just stormed out. Today I saw her wearing a slightly different kind of veil, there was an under-veil covered by her usual Pune style dupatta veil. The under-veil covered over her eyes but it was a thin and somewhat translucent white silk scarf.. there was also an inexplicable bulge around her mouth. What troubled me the most was that I could see tears wet her scarf and the sounds of her sobbing. It was an upsetting sight.

She ran off, and my efforts to call her was to no avail. Following her was a person I presumed was her father and another veiled figure stood by the door watching. I presumed that was her mother. I was perplexed as to what had happened but it wasn’t anything good. “Who are you?” the worried father asked me. I explained to him I was Aarti’s friend who had come for the presentation draft which was completed, he felt somewhat reassured when I said I would go get her back. I followed Aarti to the usual garden where she goes for walking. I saw her sitting by the pond in the garden. “Aarti? … are you ok?” I asked her in a slightly shaken tone… she did not reply. I could see she was still sobbing so I went near her to comfort her. “I can help you,” I said, “Come with me.” I reached out my hand to her shoulder. She shook me off and pushed me aside…. this rude behaviour had me dumbfounded, the next moment she threw her mobile phone which was in her hands at me and walked away sobbing again, tears rolling down her face. She didn’t speak a word throughout but made a loud “mmm” throwing the phone at me. That is when I realized she was gagged. I still managed to catch up with her and walk her back to her house. She had not stopped crying.

Throughout this day we did not communicate with each other. I just hope this unsettling day would end.

29th September 2007

It was the day of our presentation at the college. We were more than ready for it and when the time came to make the presentation we aced it! I was really happy that day.. I’m glad the assignment turned out well. I couldn’t wait to share in the success with Aarti, but should I?….. The last two weeks were strange to say the least. We didn’t talk much, the usual bonding experience was lessened. Stranger still was the fact that she avoided me every chance she could get. I was puzzled at this behaviour when just two weeks earlier we bonded so wonderfully. Something had happened that day 12 days ago, when I went to get the draft from her and she cried. I had to find out what happened! Ever since then this unsettling and curious feeling has bogged me down. Once classes ended I tried meeting Aarti today, to my surprise she found me first.

“Aarti I was just about to go to you, did you know we aced the test! This is just awesome, we should celebrate. Let’s drink two coffee over that, what’d say,” I said, expecting to have a nice time with Aarti. Her reply however, was something I would not have expected. She looked at me with her saddened eyes and said words which would shock me “We can’t meet ever again and talk. I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.” …. I stood there speechless, my face shrank and blood froze. What was this I was hearing!? Can it be true? Maybe all of this was a nightmare and it will pass away… but Alas! It was all too real. I felt heartbroken. There was nothing I could say at that moment, all my dreams for Aarti and my future with her seemed to be crashing down. As Aarti went away the image of her reddened crying eyes stuck in my mind. I was too shocked to break down and cry. I went back home with half dead steps like a man who’s soul has been broken and he has only body and flesh left. It was not a good feeling………….. this day was not good ………………… But I wouldn’t take no for an answer! I will find the reason why Aarti has changed like this!

1st October 2007 

Six days had passed since our presentation was made. I tried contacting Aarti all this time but it was of no use. She would not answer my calls, and she wouldn’t talk with me or meet me in our usual meeting spots. The day before yesterday when I went to Aarti’s apartment and tried to meet her, her father closed the door on my face the moment he heard I wanted to meet Aarti. I tried once again yesterday, but my efforts were yet again thwarted by Aarti’s father. He gave me a scolding which I shall not soon forget. He was just an inch away from taking out his dagger at me. After this episode I decided not to go to her house directly again. But I still had to meet her somehow, I needed to plan out how and when I could get to her. The only option that I could think of was in college. She was a regular student and would never absent the college. I have been seeing her everyday in college these days. So far, she had been successful in eluding me but today I would have my say come what may.

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After the lunch break, luck thankfully was on my side. I found her eating lunch at the canteen, which was quite unusual since she never did eat at the canteen ever before. She took a seat at a remote corner of the canteen where she wouldn’t be seen. Whatever the reason, I felt that I finally had my chance. These days I begin to suspect that she gags herself under the veil.. a tradition followed by most strict families. I can’t say I disapprove of it yet .. the thought of Aarti being gagged at all times outside home and class was honestly a bit disturbing for me. My grandmother used to excersize such ‘voice modesty’ measures herself but my mother never did. It was a little unusual for me to accept. But she had to take it off while eating, not only that, I could see her unveiled. Her beauty was beyond compare, I could not live without the sight of this… I sat beside her at the canteen. She tried to move away to another table but I stopped her there grasping her hand firmly. “Aarti!” I exclaimed, “You must answer me! I demand to know what is happening.” She tried to shrug me off. “Please go I can’t talk with you I’m so sorry,” replied Aarti. But I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I would have my answer today come what may. I asked her what changed in her, what had happened that day when I went to her house…. She did not reply for the next five minutes, and started to cry. I could see she was breaking down, her breaths became deeper and heavier and she started sobbing… after a minute’s silence she finally came out. She opened her teary eyes and looked at me and smiled. There was a melancholy expression on her face. Then she started to explain the situation : “Papa has fixed my marriage. My grandmother died recently, and it was her last wish to see me married to a family friend’s son. I have only till 2010 till I get married. After that it will be the end of me.. all my hopes and dreams, my freedom, even my identity.” With that she broke down in tears. I tried to console her and gave her a hug. I understand now what had happened. But now a new problem emerged with this, I’ll have to think hard on how to tackle it.

Later that day we talked more about this, Aarti told me that the family she’ll be married into was a staunchly conservative landlord family where women have to observe the strictest form of modesty over and above seclusion. In our long conversation after class she explained the whole background to me and even the fact that she now started to gag herself. This was forced upon her by her father who wanted her to get used to the idea of being silenced for long periods for a future in marital bondage. That day, the parents of her future spouse came to see her and she had to wear more layers of veils than usual and a ball gag for voice-modesty. Before it got too late, Aarti rushed out and back to her home on her scooty. I helped her with her gag and veils. Back home I introspected on a lot of things. Today was not a day I would enjoy much sleep at night.

13th October 2007

The days passed drearily, as they very much do before exam season. Next month will be our semester exams and our entire class was busy focussing on studies. I would be no exception. Quite obviously, I did not communicate much with Aarti these days. We did talk occasionally around once every week, and between classes whenever we could. But most of the times our chats would hinge on studies for the exam. For these weeks before the exam, it seemed that Aarti forgot about her family issues and was focussed completely on exams. There is not much to write about these days, but I can sense things will return to being tense after the exams. … strange isn’t it? Normally people would be relieved after exams, but here I find myself in quite an awkward position feeling more tensed after exams. The last few weeks I had time to contemplate on my choice for a life partner, and what may be in store. There is my family, and her family, and society around us. How do I balance them out? I have a lot of thinking to do it seems….. bringing Aarti to my life won’t be easy.

 

One month and ten days later……

23rd November 2007

It’s been 10 days since I’ve written anything in the diary. When exams come we students become robots, the whole world just shuts itself to us and we become machines printing papers after papers after pointless papers of answer sheets. By God! I hate this exam system! The worst part I’d say was still, not being able to meet Aarti. But still now that the exams are gone ( and in hindsight they went rather well really ) I can put my mind back to Aarti. It has been a while since the two of us have talked. These days I’m weary of her being gagged so often. I’ve noticed she doesn’t speak at all, and stays silent throughout the campus…. Has her pre-marital training already started? … if so I can only imagine worse measures in store for her. I just hope that she doesn’t get secluded from me, .. we can’t meet otherwise….. my anxieties are getting the better of me. I must meet her tomorrow.

24th November 2007

The post exam vacations had started, and a lot of my colleagues decided to take up internships later on in the month. This term I decided to let it go, I had a good enough academic backup and internship roll to put me through for a job anyways. My mind, would be fixed on Aarti for now. Last night I had promised myself, that I would meet and talk with Aarti, and meet her I did. It was not easy though, as I had feared her parents were already preparing her for a future married life under strict restrictions. She still had her usual afternoon walks in the park where I could meet her. But we could not talk face-to-face. This time I saw her dressed in a white salwar with an under-veil covering over her whole face including the eyes, over which there was a second veil covering over her nose and mouth. She was, unsurprisingly, gagged with a white tape. The bengal glue held it in place for 12 hours at an end. .. She explained to me, that her parents had made a deal with another well-to-do agricultural family in the Punjab.. for her hand in marriage… The family she tells me has some very unusual traditions for their wives to keep them under bondage and maintain their silence. Of course, she would have to stay indoors all the time, can’t go out or be herself or speak with anyone. It made me real angry to think that my beloved Aarti would have to endure this non-sense… she is a talented girl and a brilliant student! She deserves better than to be married to some farm boy!. …

But the worst part was yet to come, she explained that as a pre-condition, she cannot meet any man freely, and whenever she would go out, she would be accompanied by a guard. She is allowed to complete her 3 years course in college, but only if she kept herself ‘modest’ by their standards. Which means her movements would be closely monitored at all times, and she can’t speak with any boy and apart from classes and for when she stays indoors, she must be ‘double-veiled’ like this and gagged at all times…. .. my heart shrank when I first heard this, but then she calmed me, saying that we can still talk through my mobile phone and through internet chats… but even so it would never be the same. I would miss looking into her gorgeous eyes,…. which view I have now been deprived of…. I would miss her soft and gently voice made yet gentler through the veils …… The more I hear of her predicament, the more I feel the need to free her of it… It would be a risk… Should I take it? There is still a lot to think over.

26th December 2007

The month was over, our results were declared. Mine were good, and I’m happy that I cleared both my semester exams as well as one pending backlog. A big burden seemed lifted from my head, and I could think clearer now. Aarti’s results however, were to unbelieve! She not only topped her class, but her marks were a new record for the college! …. I could not imagine how someone who would face such harsh physical constrictions could perform so well… She was of course extremely sharp and had a photographic memory. But to achieve something this good was still hard to believe. I wished to congratulate her but couldn’t find her. I asked a classmate of her’s where she went, she told me that she hadn’t come. Instead I noticed a tall turbanned fellow… a sirdar who was standing along with the other students checking the grades. I presumed it would be Aarti’s guard. He seemed tough! I would tread lightly around this guy.. he could well have come from the wrestling ring …. I can imagine how serious Aarti’s family would be about her now. I decided to step away from him as far as I could. He shouldn’t know I’ve been eyeing Aarti for so long…. That day I did not find her at the college. Perhaps back home I could talk with her better.

I came back later that day, and sms’d her the good news about her results and my results. I could sense from her message that she was very happy to know about both these news. I also told her about her guard I met at the campus. She agreed he was hefty and quite the domineering type, but he’s just as dumb as he is big and he never went to college! … Perhaps in a stroke of black humour I laughed it off, but the fact was that this was the man that now stood between the two of us. I messaged Aarti “We need to get rid of him,” almost as an unconscious reaction, to which she responded to my surprise “yes”.

13th January 2008

The new semester had begun, and students were coming back to the college from their vacations. Aarti came, and thankfully at least in the class, she wasn’t accompanied by that gorilla of a guard!
I sensed my opportunity there, that the college authorities wouldn’t let him inside the campus. At least not during classes…. that’s when I can meet with her, and that’s where we could talk, though the periods of recess were short and between classes not much time would elapse, I could still make the most of it. Together we talked about her guard, and how to ‘get rid of him’, but I had a better idea. We can simply dupe him instead, most girls here veil when they leave classes, and they all veil using a black scarf, and put on sunglasses. This gave me an idea. Why not dress up Aarti in a black scarf and get somebody else to double up as Aarti in her veils and gag. The sunglasses would cover up for the eyes, and no one would recognize Aarti in the veil anyways and definitely not this bodyguard. Aarti loved the idea, I could see her eyes light up. But there was a problem, she would still have to come back to him, as now he would be driving her home on the scooty. That hole remained unresolved for now, but at least we could get the time we wanted from each other. The next week we decided to try this plan out.

21st January 2008

I have a dear friend of mine who was willing to cooperate with us executing this plan, Raashi was her name. She was kind enough to give her black scarf to me and Aarti gave her white scarf to her and they both put on their sunglasses. Aarti of course ungagged and Raashi took it upon her. That day we decided to bunk the class for the rest of the day, we simply walked out the gate together right in front of the guard, and he didn’t notice for one second! The fool was busy puffing his cigarette. We walked away to my bike, and rode off to the highest hill in Punyanagari. There we talked ourselves for hours…. It felt like rebellion, it felt like freedom .. We were happier than ever…. That was a moment of joy I wouldn’t forget.. but alas good things do come to an end, before the classes would end I had to go back to the college with Aarti so that she can slip back to her usual clothing. We got back in the nick of time, made the exchange and gave the guard the slip. Later that day when chatting with her, she said “Had a great time today, let’s do it again :)” …. Fair enough, but I don’t think we should be making a habit of it .. I personally don’t like bunking my classes at will.

Today I found a hidden rebellious side of her’s which I never knew existed. Perhaps it’s trapped underneath the layers of social compulsions imposed on her. Or maybe it was the taming power of the veil? … That mystery would remain for at least some time.

 

A month and 20 days later …

10th March 2008

In the last seven weeks, me and Aarti have bunked at least 3 times. We decided not to do it too often, or else it might affect our performance, and it might raise suspicions from the guard. The last two days I’ve noticed him taking notice of me in the bike, and looking suspiciously at Aarti in her black veil….. he didn’t recognize though, which was good! We’ve planned it out, that we’ll be taking our rides only on the days when a professor is absent or some classes called off. It seems to happen quite often in this term, I don’t know how or why it’s like this, but its for the better as long as I could spend more time with Aarti.

I thought a lot to myself, …..about us,….. and what we mean for each other. I explored my feelings towards her, and about the circumstances surrounding our story. I concluded, that the decision of spending the rest of my life with her would be a decision of us both, not simply mine or her’s alone. Today when we went to the peak of Punyanagari, seeing the grand city before us, I thought it would be a good time to ask her in the open… Did she have feelings towards me? The same way I had towards her? … She did not answer back to these questions when I asked her. She simply looked back and gave a melancholy expression. It seemed like her eyes did all the talking, but after almost 15 minute’s pause… she spoke up with these few simple yet enigmatic words “I want to.. but I can’t” .. I understood what she meant but I still couldn’t accept it. I grasped her arms firmly and looked into her eyes.. and we stared at each other … I questioned her Why it was so? What feelings were she hiding? What stopped her! She had the freedom to feel then why not feel! … In the moments that followed, our passions got the better of us and I had the most intimate moment in my life. Aarti would be a virgin no more …..That day we were delayed in reaching back to our college, and I feared that Aarti would be caught and she would fall in trouble. We managed to rush back in, and somehow we managed to save ourselves yet again.. but that last experience made me understand why she would not say anything on the hill, but it also gave me the inspiration to fight on for her. But there were every manner of obstacles before us, and we would have to get rid of them one by one. If a fight is what was needed to get together with Aarti then a fight it would be! I am a Maratha and we do not accept defeat easily!

15th March 2008

At the weekend me and Aarti chatted again, this time I told her of my plan to get rid of the guard. I remember Aarti telling me about how particular her parents were about the guard being ‘chaste’ at all times. It made sense after all, that they were handing over the security of their most beautiful daughter to him. So if it could be proven that the guard was not so,.. or that he ogles Aarti or other girls in the college. Her parents would haven him taken away. We needed to stage a scene for this ….. and I could get my friend Raashi to help us as well. As of now, she’s the only friend who knows about my feelings towards Aarti and supports me in this. Both of us trust her with this…

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Today we decided to implement the plan. I’ve noticed in all of his visits.. he has a certain weakness. He casually looks at every tall girl who comes by the institute, and I suspect he may have a thing for gloves. Well as I see it, every weakness of the enemy is a strength for us. Raashi is relatively tall, around 5’8” and she wears full length gloves too. It was natural for her to make the move on him, and it went just as I had expected if not more! .. turns out all she had to do to be teased by this guy was stand in front of him and wear her gloves and adjust her veil, the icing on the cake was when she asked him the time, he replied with a grab! The cops came in just in time and the whole fiasco was created on the streets as the guard tried to beat the cop. … Then on the way back, Aarti went alone. She told me about the response from her parents about what had happened. They were outraged at his behaviour, but now they needed somebody else to accompany her. But I’m guessing it’ll be quite a while before anybody shows up to shoulder this responsibility, and by the looks of it the father doesn’t want to do this work.

5th April 2008

By this time, Aarti’s parents had still failed to find another guard for her. We thought over our plans together, and Aarti’s marriage. These days our talks are very objective, almost like fighting a battle. We were thinking of ways to make the marital arrangement fail… but without endangering Aarti’s position. I’ve been told that during the puja vacations this October she’ll be heading for a week to the Punjab, and meet her future in-laws. So far she only knew of what her father had told her, nothing on their character, how they are etc. I could only guess what a typical conservative Punjabi family would be like from that region, but most of it was based on stereotypes, and I hate taking decisions on the basis of stereotypes. I told her that for sometime she can stay with them, understand them, and spot out their weaknesses and what can shift her father’s opinion away from them. Her father she said was very particular about the chaste character of the women in the household as well as the integrity of the groom. These are areas I thought of attacking…. but it may need the cooperation of my parents. That is when it becomes dicey… nevertheless I knew sometime or the other I would be breaking it to them about Aarti and my feelings for her. Now would be a good a time as any other. What was secret to be kept only between us at all times, was the moment of intimacy on the hill, none shall know about this but us.

21st April 2008

Our semester exams will take off in around two months from now. Internals were happening for this month. Aarti came back from the Punjab and we talked about what she saw there. The ancestral village where her family comes from and where the future in-laws of Aarti were. She liked the rustic charm of the place, but it was cut off from the city. It was culturally isolated, and despite the modern infrastructure ( roads, telecom connectivity, modern farm equipment ), people lived with a medieval mentality. In fact, the whole village was divided into three major landowners who owned around 78% of all cultivable land! …. the other land was either settled by the planters and workers of the farms of these landowning families or were remnants of the petty landowners who were not yet gobbled up by these families. I was shocked to know such villages even exist in the empire’s territories! … Even more that Aarti’s family was one of the landowners!!……. my problems seemed to compound, that they were also politically connected and had firepower… their own private army! My ‘progressive’ thinking parents wouldn’t quite like the idea of marrying Aarti given her background. They were and still are strictly against landlordism.

I asked Aarti about the family her parents were seeing, she said they were ultra conservative but the sons behaved unashamedly like lumpens. The worst bit was seeing the status of the women in the household. Of course, in order to please them, Aarti herself had to ‘dress the part’ . Not only was she made to veil at all times, she had to excersize voice and arm modesty. There was what she called a ‘dreadful’ arm binding measure, which fixed her arms behind her back and also acted as a kind of corset puffing up the breasts and squeezing at the waste. Her voice-modesty measure was just as harsh, it was a combination of a simple ball-gag and a total head wrap with white tape. Of course, it had bengal glue in, giving it extreme adhesive quality. Good thing though they use an old trick to loosen the adhesive… Aarti didn’t have to suffer taking it off. Even so, the whole experience was terribly restricting, and the only space that the women were allowed were either in the lounge or in the bedroom. They had to wear a chastity belt as well! And to top everything off, their heads had to be covered with a dupatta scarf in ‘ghunghat’ style. The women were stuck at the lounge or at the bedroom, even in the kitchen they were forbidden… that was the domain of the maids to cook for them, and maids to clean up the huge mansions.

Still…. despite all this Aarti, the clever girl that she is, did manage to over-hear the family’s conversations, and found the linchpin that would ensure this marriage fails! Of course, it wasn’t the lumpen behaviour which the men showed, her father interpreted this ( as any true blue blooded chauvinist would ) as a ‘sign of manliness’. No… the real linchpin was one of the maids! One fine day, Aarti caught one of the brothers of the family eloping with one of the maids, as she was cooking… of course she was veiled, and properly silenced, but that didn’t stop him.. no, on the contrary by her accounts at least…. it incited him! And the maid enjoyed it just as much! If we could somehow put this forward to Aarti’s father, and expose the hypocrites for what they are… I think we’ll have it made!

22nd April 2008

The next day something odd happened. We chatted through the phone as we usually do, me and Aarti. But that’s where she said something I had not anticipated. It would seem, being in extreme restrictions had had some impact on her thinking. I asked her out of curiosity that day, what it felt like under the veils and the bondage. I had expected her to say something along the lines of “Ohh it was terrible, it was hard to breathe” etc. But surprise! Surprise! She replied “To tell you honestly?….. I LOVED IT!” and yes, with capital letters. I was shocked … how could someone who craved independence and freedom appreciate bondage like this? Then she clarified. “I loved the bondage but hated the seclusion. I can’t imagine what it must be like just restricted to the bed and sofa. I want to explore, work and do what I want, but I want also to feel secure … that’s why I liked the bondage. It makes me feel secure, so does the veil! I will never give it up. Would like it even more if I have to excersise voice-modesty. But I will not put up with any of these things if I’m forced to it!” what sentence was to follow shocked me even more… “I would do it, only if I’m married with you… you will.. let me na?” …… I kept trying to make sense of the whole thing, I wasn’t particularly against these ‘modesty’ practices, for me it has always been “to each her own”, but now I had to face this choice for my life partner.. How could I say no to her simple wish? The only thing I was a little afraid of was convincing my parents of this. Would the die hard left liberals approve of such orthodox practices? …. it left me thinking.

But it also left me with an epiphany… I now understood the contradiction. With women, I think it is all about a balance, freedom is not an absolute in itself, it is about what makes one feel free. Feeling secure is part of that. Women want both, the freedom of choosing their own path, as well as the mental security that they would be in protective hands. I wondered over her message….. did Aarti invite me for a ‘test’? I had read from some accounts that to trust one’s partner with bondage was to repose trust in him… did she want to test how far she could trust me? It definitely wouldn’t hurt to explore this… perhaps this week we can spend a while in our spot at the hills.

26th April 2008

The night after we had that talk about her interest in restrictive clothing, and decided to have something of a ‘session’ together. I told her, I would tie her up and gag her in ways she would like, and we would see it out. We decided to do it this week on the 26th,….. that is today. As usual, we went to our spot on the hills after classes ended, that is where Aarti took out some of the things used on her to restrict her arms and silence her. She took out a red vinyl ball-gag with a strap buckle on it, a couple of shawls, and one rather large yet strange looking armbinder……. the strange part was, that it was attached to some kind of corset like thing, the strangest part though, was that it was foldable! .. Aarti could carry it in her scooty under her seat, along with her backpack.

Aarti showed me how each one was used on her, and how she was bound and gagged and then over that, veiled. She asked me to put each layer on her, I didn’t gag her at first, but went to tie the armbinding-corset first, then I would gag her in the way that she wanted…. I admit, my hands were a bit shaky at it, I don’t know why there was an inexplicable arousal in me…… the thought of seeing beautiful Aarti, standing right before me, in quiet submission, aroused me… here was the woman of my dreams … soon to be completely under my control, but not just that! … peacefully submitting to me.

There was something about the look in her eyes that time as well, when I went ahead with tying her arms with the dress, quite unconsciously, I tied it to the highest degree, and Aarti gave a most sensuous sigh …. and she smiled back… her eyes having a rare spark in it. I could sense she appreciated the bind being tied firmly. “Now for the gag,” she said, it took me a little while to respond.. I was still dumbfounded at the sight of the bound beauty, now wanting to be gagged! …. my hands reached for the ball gag, she gave precise instructions on how she was to be silenced…. The ball gag was to be inserted deep into her mouth and the strap was to be tied around the neck from below the ears and preferably tight.. yet again, I unconsciously tied it to the tightest. By the time we had started wrapping her head with the tape I had become quite enthusiastic about this. We were done with the bondage measures, now came the veiling measures, which struck me as somewhat simplistic compared to the binds and gags, why would they settle for a simple ghunghat if they went to such lengths to tie her up?

So I decided to improvise a little, Aarti could not resist now, so I decided to wrap her head in the typical punyanagari veil style with the pleats of the cloth draping over her shoulders and covering her chest. Only her eyes would be visible now… to add to this, I draped another scarf over her covering her upper body. It was an amazing look, she was more elegant than I had ever seen. Her eyes drooped down in modesty, and she gave a little bow… I couldn’t stop myself from kissing her over her veiled face. My arms were around her, my lips struggling to feel her’s…. it was a moment I wouldn’t soon forget. Later on I took a picture to show her what she looked like. She loved it as much as I did.

The day has almost ended and I am still trying to process all the diverse feelings that were passing through my mind, the one most undeniable one being that of sexual arousal… it somehow didn’t feel right sexualizing modesty measures… or rather what society considered as sign of modesty and humility, but what other explanation could I give? …. This experience threw a lot of things into the open for me…

1st May 2008

And we come to the May Day holiday this year, that day of the year, when my parents visit me, and take me to the may day parades…. I can’t say I don’t enjoy them, but …. at times it just feels a little boring and mundane. I particularly do not enjoy my parent’s ideological lecturing each time, getting emotional about the parades, and how much blood went into making it legal. Then again.. can’t blame them, my dad was a unionist who took a bullet in one may day’s parade which was held illegally, that was during the anti-war movement.

But all of this was in the sidelines of my thinking, my parents were with me now and they would stay for at least a week. I thought about telling them about Aarti, and at least introducing them to her. I won’t tell them yet that this is the woman I love, that they may not be prepared to accept… honestly, I don’t know what they would say when they see her for the first time, it may be that they would disapprove her? .. it may be that they may like her? … The only way to know is by introducing her to them. If only Aarti’s parents allow it! I’ll have to play this game very tactfully.

4th May 2008

With the May Day vacation over, it was back to work, and my father toned down his ideological lectures on me. I thought he was softened enough at the moment to introduce Aarti and not provoke them. But the main difficulty was convincing Aarti’s parents, that of course could only be done by Aarti. Of course she did that with ease, the internal assessments were up, and she said that one of her teachers lived here, she made the guard stay outside of the complex, and she came to us. .. before coming I had requested Aarti to be ungagged and not have her eyes covered. My mother was opposed to orthodox dressing of this sort, she did veil herself and even wore the gag but only on occasion, when visiting her maternal home, she detested it every time…. she wouldn’t like her future wife practicing it as any kind of tradition.

Aarti did come and dressed like I had asked her, without the under-veil and the voice-modesty, she was in her usual white dress which made her look oh so elegant!…. I introduced Aarti, and as I had expected in the best of situations, she charmed them. They loved her attitude, her articulate speech, her modest behaviour, but what they especially liked ( intellectuals that they are ) was her intellectual interests, in history, in classical music, and oddly enough in sociology and politics! That was something which took me by surprise as during my last conversations with her she never showed much knowledge of those or interest in those areas. But maybe she did some homework before meeting my parents, since I told her that they were left-liberals. Anyway, whatever be the case, it was for the better. I think now we have some groundwork for going ahead with our plan for marriage. The only peeve which I had expected to be as such, was Aarti’s family background, my parents weren’t too comfortable knowing that she was from a land owning family in the Punjab. Even so.. I could now push my luck with them. At least they liked Aarti, they wouldn’t put up as much resistance, they wouldn’t fight with me over my choice of marrying her.

16th May 2008

My parents didn’t believe that marriage was a bonding of two families but viewed it more as the bonding of two individuals. That’s how they saw me and Aarti, as two individuals making their choice in life as individuals. But Aarti’s family did not believe in this, for them the family it would seem was more important than the individual. The bride and groom were only exchangeable objects in a transaction of mutual benefit which would be to the advantage of both families involved. In a stern society where family honor was highly prized like in the Punjab, it was that much more important to marry into the right kind of family which would increase the prestige of the families. For land owners this meant that they would have to marry into either an equal landowning family, or one of higher stature. Anything short of a land owner’s family would be considered as a downgrade….. I explored my options with Aarti now that I was more or less sure of my parents acceptance. But what about Aarti’s parents?…..

I am quite sure they would not accept me… My only hope here would be to break the arrangement they have then I might have a chance to get in. But doing that won’t be easy. I hear that Aarti’s family has brought another guard for her. I don’t yet know who it is, I can only find out tomorrow when I see Aarti coming to college.

17th May 2008

I should say that the hallmark of my day today, would be the guard who was sent for Aarti. It was another Punjabi fellow, but this time not quite a sirdar.. he was a jat, by the look of it. The frustrating part was that he was even more fearsome looking than the last guard, and he had what looked like a dagger tied around a belt on his waist. The sight of that sugar cane chewing giant was a permanent worry for me at college now… but there was good news to be had, later when we got home, Aarti messaged me that this guard was in fact one of the brothers from the other family back from her village.. The same one Aarti spotted eloping with the maids! .. What a stroke of luck that the enemy had walked into range! It would seem we can get two roadblocks out of the way at once… Raashi would once again come to the rescue.

27th May 2008

The night before we would go ahead with operation bodyguard, Aarti told me that she had a talk with her father about what she had seen back in the village, about the brothers eloping with the maid. Her father of course did not believe her that a family with such high repute would stoop so low as having one of their brothers elope with a maid of the house! .. Aarti asked what would happen if it were proven true… after a tensed pause, her father replied “This marriage would be off,.. but I would see to it that his boy is beheaded!” The news made me really happy.. nothing could please me more at this point than seeing my rival beheaded.

The morning which followed would see a step in that direction. The plan to get him out of the way wasn’t remarkably different from the last time we used Raashi to get rid of Aarti’s guard. The only difference would be in the impact and importance of this strike. The idea was to let Raashi cozy up to him, elope with him, and have a little escapade across the city. Then expose the guy to the parents. That should break it! … Around after the recess, I saw Raashi make her way towards the guy and smoothly striking a conversation with him. In an expectedly lewd fashion, the guard made a pass at her, and when she came back to class a, flirtatious smack in her backside to top it off. I hid myself in a corner, taking pictures of all this out of the guard’s sight.

After the classes were over, I talked with Raashi about the next one week or so of the plan. Raashi was a bit perturbed at the prospect of being close to this oafish lumpen who’s guarding Aarti, but after a lot of talk, she decided to put up with it for a week but no more. Aarti did her part very well, keeping the suspicions piling up against the guard, putting him on shaky ground. So far so good….

1st June 2008

Exams would start in the middle of July. It was announced in class today, for Aarti it would start a week earlier. We had already gotten geared up and started studying for it, but my quest would continue as well. The only problem would now be convincing Raashi of keeping with the guard.. but she had promised a week and only a few days remained in fulfilling her promise. In return for that I promised her to help with her studies and pending submissions for internal assessments.

Of course, by now I had more than enough stuff to nail the guard and his godforsaken family in! But a little more would be just that much better…. Raashi would be recording a video of their outing tonight.. it would seem they have a date. Well all the better if it could become more convincing… but in the back of my head I am a bit concerned about Raashi’s safety. If anything should happen to her because of what we made her do, I could never forgive myself. God willing everything would be fine. With exams nearing, our minds should be more focussed on studies… but it’s difficult for both me and Aarti as well as Raashi. Let’s just hope we can keep ourselves from slipping too much this term.

I think this month and the next would be all about maintaining balance. Between our desires and responsibilities. One thing wouldn’t change of course… that the commitment I had given to myself and to Aarti, I would keep. Once I’ve given a commitment it is final!

6th June 2008

Raashi’s work was done, and we had more than incriminating evidence to frame the guard. Hopefully, this would be enough to break the relation between the two families and give me leeway to get Aarti… but I restrained myself a little. These days due to exam pressure, and on account of most of the classes concluding, Aarti n I weren’t coming to college as much, and the guard didn’t have much use for Aarti. At this sensitive time I was in two minds as to whether I should expose him or not. With Raashi, he was lewd and almost tried to get sexual with her on the date. Though a proper slap in his face did him good and showed his place.

I’m still caught in two minds though …. here Aarti tells me to lay it open to her parents, let there be some turmoil, as long as we won’t be targeted it would be manageable. But there’s still a risk of it spilling over. On the other hand, if we wait on this it might turn things cold and then the whole effort may have been wasted. So I’ve set myself a deadline, I figure, I have only till the 10th of this month to break it to Aarti’s parents, if I miss this window of opportunity I will have to wait till after exams, by which time it might not work. Let’s see if I have the balls to go ahead with this ………

9th June 2008

This was the day I passed the pictures anonymously to Aarti’s house mail. I hoped they would open and see the pictures in it, and it would have the desired effect…. but mostly I hoped Aarti’s studies wouldn’t be affected by it. The one bickering thought at the back of my head was .. what if? Her parents found out that we were framing the guard… who was the brother of her fiancé.. then what would happen? Aarti would get a scolding and a harsh punishment.. maybe even worse. All of that would be because of my stupid idea! The worst bit of course would be that she would be forever departed from me. But maybe I’m just panicking … maybe i’m thinking too much over this.

They didn’t check their mail today…. Usually Aarti is the one who bothers to check what’s in the mailbox and that too every 3rd day. Well it’s been 2 days since she last checked mail, so I guess they’ll know about the mail tomorrow. Today I can only wait, there’s a lot of work to do today, not the least the pending assignments for Raashi, I do after all owe her a debt of gratitude for her work and the risk she took for me.

10th June 2008

An action packed day if there ever was one! … the whole neighborhood was aroused by the shouting the yelling and the kicking and the fighting …. my pictures destabilized the whole area. Only the cops could stop Aarti’s dad from killing the immoral brother of the groom! Aarti secluded herself from her raging father that day, but we kept touch through messaging and both of us were decidedly pleased at the spectacle, I couldn’t hear Aarti laugh but I imagined as much, I definitely did.

It seemed like things were going our way after all.. Her father was enraged but Aarti’s mother was more amenable. She talked with Aarti about how the brother behaved with her at college, she feigned ignorance quite cleverly and explained that he behaved in a lewd manner with girls at her college when she wasn’t watching. At the end of the day when tensions had settled down a bit, the cancellation of the marriage plans were discussed. It was painful for Aarti’s parents to decide to break the relation, especially with the burden of Aarti’s dead grandmother’s last wish. Aarti had chosen wisely to hide away in her study most of the day. In any case her parents wouldn’t take her opinion, it would be quite pointless to talk with them about her relation, nevertheless she overheard their conversations. It would seem from it they did have a bit of a suspicion about how the photographs were taken and who could be responsible for this expose. But all of that was subdued thankfully, to the thought of the dishonour the act of the brother had brought to his family, and on the breaking of the marriage. That was a victory I would cherish for now ….

11th June 2008

The next day I learnt more from Aarti about what transpired last night, and what plans changed for Aarti and her family. Right now, her parents were considerate enough to consider the semester exams and not disturb the peace at home. I got back to focussing on my studies, and finished off the last of Raashi’s assignments. Today I handed it over to her just a week before submission, she was very thankful for it.. enough gratitude to thank me with a kiss on the cheek.

In that brief meeting with Raashi though, there was a little odd question or two, during the time when we were duping Aarti’s old guard, Raashi had to double up for her and put on her bondage measures. She seemed curious to know more about how it was, and how Aarti felt under those restrictions. I asked her “Why do you want to know about this?” to which she replied “I’m just ‘curious’… I actually kind of liked it” . This was quite a surprise for me and definitely unfamiliar with the Raashi that I knew of. Yes she was flirtatious, and quite casual, she did wear the veil like everybody else, but not very usual for a high class girl like her. To be interested in the more acute measures seemed to me to be somewhat umm…. suspicions? I began to suspect some possible sexual preference in this. Is this what one would call a ‘fetish’? Our talk around this continued for a while till one point where she wanted to try out what exactly it felt like to be in the more extreme restrictions which I described Aarti practiced in her natal village. She was quite eager to try it out and be in them for prolonged periods, I suggested she talk with Aarti about it and maybe they can fix a time for themselves for it. ……. It’s a rather odd though not a completely unhappy coincidence that the women closest to me are all ending up having a bondage and veil fetish. For now however… off to exams!

 

One and a half months later

30th July 2008

Over a month has passed, we’re all relieved that exams have passed rather well. Our results would be declared in the middle of August and classes would start at August end. There was a bit of an administrative delay in conducting the exams this semester, and some of the students were decidedly angry… this was also the reason why some of the professors cut classes. I could sense the air of a strike at hand though…. if results reflected as much. This is not a frequent occurrence but when it does happen it usually shakes the administration and forces them to bring in some reforms. The last one happened 4 years back and that changed the internal assessment system. But let’s see that’s just idle speculation… but both professors and students are angry at the way this sem was mismanaged.

On the front of my love life though, things were going much more smoothly . Aarti’s parents were still undecided about Aarti’s marriage and there was even talk that they’d let her chose her own partner… as radical and unappreciated that may be in their natal village. Aarti however, warned me not to be too casual about this as they didn’t show any seriousness on that passing comment. Nevertheless, I could sense an opening… this was time to plan our next move. But what would it be? …………..

Ah yes but in the meantime! An interesting thing happened with Raashi and Aarti, they met and talked about veiling, modesty measures and the bondage aspect of it. They decided to fix a time when they’d be together in complete veil and with gags and arm-binders for a whole day!…. Aarti asked me to help them out in this. It made me feel a bit awkward when I first heard it, but I decided to go ahead with it anyways. My best friend and my girlfriend getting along can’t be a bad thing now can it? …Besides, it might give me a little practice to keep up with Aarti when she starts adopting full measures after marriage, that is what she wanted anyways.

1st August 2008

It was one full year since I had first seen Aarti. I still remember the first sight of her which had left me spellbound.Today was the day when Aarti and Raashi went out together in their ‘bondage experiment’ ( well at least that’s what I’m calling it for now ) …. Raashi was new to this bondage and like in our time on the peak, I had to help Aarti out with the binds, though she helped out Raashi with the binds.

She decided to dress Raashi a little differently than the style she saw in the punjab… no, she decided to dress her in the style that I had made her wear during our time on the hill. Her gags and binds remained the same though, several wraps of white tape covering the whole head save her nostrils and eyes, a corset arm-binder brought from the Punjab, tied over her salwar, and of course not to forget .. the red vinyl ball gag tied firmly over her mouth. Over this was tied the familiar Punyanagari veil ( familiar to me and Raashi at least ) tied smugly over her gagged face using a golden silk dupatta, and one more dupatta scarf wrapped around Raashi’s upper body, which was green in color, matching the color of her salwar suit. Aarti couldn’t gag Raashi as well as I could gag her it seemed, but given that this was Raashi’s first time in such restrictions, I would understand the lenience towards her. With both of our girls in bondage, we were now ready to hit the streets, the plan was to take a long drive to the popular hill station at Mahabaleshwar. It would be an 8 hour trip and we will be back to Punyanagari by evening. Enough time I should guess for Raashi to get an understanding of life in restrictions.

While driving the girls to the station, I saw Aarti lean against the window admiring the scenery by the highway… I noticed the happiness in her beautiful eyes… there was such a contrast with her old self. The sight in my memory still fresh I just took a moment to compare the Aarti whom I had met on the 1st of August 2007 and the Aarti who I am seeing today. That old girl had a melancholy feel to her, almost cold, but this new girl I see before me.. albeit in strict restrictions smiled so beautifully, was hanging around with new found friends….. but that did beg a question in my mind of the change which may have occurred in Aarti’s parents that they now let her out freely…

I had a positive vibe that day, and that feel good was enhanced by seeing Raashi in her attire. I helped her out with it, just like I did for Aarti, I now understood the convenience of having me aboard with them for this outing, they needed someone to help with the bonds. Anyways, Raashi looked quite nice with the her green salwar and dupatta, Aarti was in her usual whites, that’s her favorite color by the way. We drove together in my car all the way up to the Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar, enjoying the beautiful Maratha countryside with rolling hills, valleys, greenery and nice clear blue skies. For the girls, in addition to this, they enjoyed some bondage time … I wouldn’t deny it didn’t bring a smile to my face. We returned around the evening, I was to drop off Aarti at around 5 to her place along with Raashi, but I dared not venture near Aarti’s house for her parents to see me! …. I still didn’t have the nerve to face her father, and I still didn’t feel confident about Aarti’s parents ever opening up to me.

Later that day Raashi called me up from her place to tell me how she felt being in veils and bondage for most of the day. She said she liked it quite much and would do it again if the opportunity came her way. Even so, she wouldn’t make it a lifestyle choice, one off days are good enough but she can’t do this forever…. That was quite unlike my Aarti who would want to be in bondage. I had asked Raashi what her marriage plans were for her life… she said that she didn’t quite care about it just yet and it wasn’t important for her…… I thought over the contrast between the two women. One was strong talented and yet willing to be submissive.. the other was not as talented, not quite as beautiful (though pretty still), and yet they both like the bondage! Women are quite complicated indeed. I doubt anybody would ever fully understand them. But there was a definite submissive side to Raashi which gave both her and Aarti a sort of common ground.

Aarti and I talked as well that night, it was a long wonderful chat, and we talked about all the things which we have been through in the year that passed. Our plans for the future, how things are moving our way… that night she gave me a piece of news which would have me elated for the rest of the night … Aarti’s family was finally opened up to marrying outside of the village and what’s better! They were planning on moving over to Punyanagari and that would of course mean marrying a family here and adopting the Punyanagari way.. That was the local law around here. Pretty soon they’ll be posting a matrimonial ad in the papers.

I did ask her what would come of their assets in the Punjab though, she said that they had appointed managers who were more than capable of managing the place, but her father was somewhat frustrated with the life of a landlord. It was too much pressure to keep up a high honor in the village and keep 30000 agricultural laborers at bay and keep paying off mercenaries to do their job!… He was planning to give away the land to a village collective for the workers to tend and manage it on their own. Around a third of our agriculture is managed by such communes….. ever since their setting up the countryside has developed rather well. I would support such a move, and I know my parents would love this. The most important thing of course, was that now the field was finally open for me to marry Aarti!

15th August 2008

I thought of responding to the matrimonial ad posted by Aarti’s parents. It read “Beautiful 24 year old Punjabi girl, tall, fair and educated, currently pursuing B-Com , articulate and well read. Family caste –  Khatri, landed family from Punjab, looking for educated husband, under graduate, preferably brahmin, kayastha or kshatriya caste family and with professional employment background. Should be no less than 27 years old.” It seemed perfect for me, I was already a degree holder in BBA before starting with law, and I just had my 27th birthday last month!… It seemed everything was falling in place. Aarti’s family had opened up to the idea, though it must have been interesting to know what was going in their heads when they did. I made the reply today and hoped for a positive response. A date was fixed for the 15th of August 2008 …. today, my parents were asked to come of course, which they did. I had already convinced dad about the girl I was going to marry. We had a long discussion about our plans and what we would do together. Next year both of our courses would end, and we would be getting some decent placements for jobs. That wouldn’t be a problem. All that remained was to talk with Mr and Mrs Khanna, Aarti’s parents.

And talk we did!….. they were nothing like remembered when I first met them, though the sight of Mr Khanna was rather depressing, he seemed to come around like a defeated man, having lost something…. or one who’s faith was shaken. Aarti was in the background as usual, I didn’t see her face in her under-veil, she didn’t say anything but I couldn’t tell if she was gagged or not, what I could tell seeing her eyes was that she was happy at the way the discussions were progressing. I had asked my parents not to talk about my pre-existing relationship with Aarti and that it might enrage her father, …. my father didn’t like the idea of hiding things but understood when I explained the family’s background, I also explained that he is changing his ways and giving over the village estate to a agricultural commune! I expected my father’s reply to be a typical one “A friend of the people is a friend of mine. Fine I will talk with this Khatri.” He was categorical that as far as he and mother were concerned this marriage was first and foremost MY responsibility and then my parents.

Despite my apprehensions, the negotiation was managed effectively, and the marriage was settled. The date would be fixed seeing our birth charts as is the tradition among Hindus, and then all ceremonies and the like would follow…. it was mutually decided that we fix the marriage keeping in mind our semester exams of course. After that talk was concluded, I went out in the evening, and me and Aarti made our walk to the park, it was a long time that we made this walk together, it felt nice. We sat there for hours, talking and hugging and cuddling, planning our future together. Good things were beginning to happen to us….

30th August 2008

Placements had started in our campus and I had a good placement with the Imperial Bank of Maharashtra as one of its regional legal officers. Aarti had a job offer from an accounting firm, but decided to turn it down .. she said she would rather spend more time with me and be a home maker rather than work.. in any case she hinted to me that she wouldn’t stop at B-Com. There was still 2 more years before we complete our courses, for Aarti one semester more than me. It was decided between us that we would marry only after we complete our studies, but Aarti’s father still had worries about her future, and desired that she marry and settle down even before her studies were completed. We thought about this and had a long discussion, me and Aarti…… we didn’t conclude anything yet ….

2nd September 2008

Our marriage date was fixed for 2nd of December after going over our birth charts. The stars favored our marriage the astrologer said…. that our marriage would endure many hardships and we were meant to be together. My parents didn’t believe in the astro voodoo, but it was an assuring thought nevertheless. At this point the one thing I was wondering which was constantly knocking a me… was the sudden change of heart of Aarti’s parents … There must have been more than met the eye. Something much more than anticipated must have happened during that exam period which I did not know.. and maybe Aarti hid it from me? I decide to ask her out of the blue, what was it that changed her parents minds. That is when she told me what she had done and what had happened between her parents and her natal household back in the Punjab.

One day around a week earlier, her parents had an earnest and open conversation with Aarti, about the whole business of the guard’s eloping with Raashi. Of course, she still did not reveal that it was planned out, but she did say that if there were a choice given to her, she would never marry into that family of lumpens… if her parents desired her happiness, they would at least keep some of her concerns in mind, and wouldn’t give me away like a commodity to some other family. A small fight started over that, her father resorted to gagging her eventually, and she would stay that way and in her room, not that she bothered much about it. But that very day, a rather disturbing piece of news came which made matters tilt more in our favor. It turns out, that the Khatri family ( to whom Aarti was to be married) were indulging in grossly exploitative practices on their farm workers and neighboring peasant families. That day riots had broken out in which the Khanna family’s farmers enthusiastically participated, the Khatri family’s estate was burnt down and all the brothers of the family were butchered on spot. The Khanna estates were unharmed after the authorities came down, but the spectre of a peasant’s rebellion remained. This prompted Aarti’s father to rethink his views on the village and staying on with landlordism. The authorities did try their best to quell the rebellion but it did not work, and for two whole days the village was out of control, till additional shock troops were brought in to bring things under control. It would seem the area was penetrated by Maoist agents and they had incited the peasants against this family. It was only the Khanna family’s decency and good name which saved it. The family decided to leave that life and settle in Punyanagari, and start anew. Pension and rent from leasing the manor back home would be enough to suffice Mr Khanna’s needs at old age.

I was shocked to hear this story… but it settled down on me in a while. There was something rather poignant and karmic about the whole episode… To think I had spoken so gleefully at the thought of beheading the groom to be and his brother to have this fate befall them. A bit shaken from inside I gave Aarti a tight hug. I would be glad once this marriage goes through….

4th September 2008:

The dates for our next semester exams were announced, they would be held in the 2nd week of October…. glad that the marriage was dated 2 months after my exams. We could study in peace… I can’t say that our performance hasn’t been declining a wee bit, but we could still manage to push through and keep a respectable ranking. Even so, we decided to focus completely on our studies…. a usual tactic of students in India is to simply shut ourselves from the world during the period of exams and come back out once its over. After the excitement of the preceding months it was time to get down to earth again… exams have that quality in them that they can pull you down to ground… The one month would be drab to say the least, me and Aarti wouldn’t talk as much, and we’d both shut ourselves for the study. I just hope the thought of marriage doesn’t muddle our mind in this period….

30th October 2008

I should perhaps say with some reserve.. this was perhaps the worst exam I gave in a very long time.. Aarti expressed similar reservations.The thought of the marriage and the tensions around that were in our minds through the study period, I can only hope for the best when the exam results come out. But now that everything was already set in for the marriage, could we turn back!? Most certainly not! I take it that it was only a one off time that the tensions and the surrounding circumstances of this year that factored into the lower than normal performance at the exams.. both mine as well as Aarti’s. After marriage these tensions would pass and we can go ahead with the usual course….. I hope. Or is it that .. Am I having second thoughts about this time of marriage? Aarti is less worried over her performance, given the CGPA system she’d be securely positioned a grade above the class average. She tells me not to worry much either and that I’ll perform well enough but there’s this little doubting dave in my head which keeps making me think in the negative….. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.

2nd of November

I had been thinking over this idea of marriage during our studies. It wasn’t as much as the fact that my performance had gone down a bit, than the thought that it was this pre-marital tension that caused it… I talked to Aarti today about this, she could see the worry on my face about this…. though she was calm. Her only reply was a kiss on my forehead and a stroke with her arms on my hair saying “it will all be alright.” She of course said that with a very reassuring smile on her face. But she could sense that there was still a bit of a tension in my mind. She reassured me once again that after marriage all this would simply whither away… In the meantime she decided to adopt a relatively orthodox tradition of the Punjab, one which involves isolating the bride from the groom till the day of marriage, and more specifically till the point of intercourse in the so-called “Auspicious night” for Hindus. This of course is done, by keeping the woman in doors, but for Aarti this wasn’t proper, instead she demanded she allowed to go out of the house but being veiled and silenced in her preferred voice and arm-modesty measures at all possible times during this period. As I’ve seen so far, she usually gets what she wants when she puts her mind to it…. Besides it looks like a fair quid pro quo from her parents perspective… it would definitely be interesting to see how she pulls off this anonymity.

 

The marriage

2nd December 2008

And the day had finally come! The day we had all been waiting for… the day of my marriage with my beloved.. my Aarti. A whole month had passed where I neither saw her nor spoke with her or touched her ( all of which would be quite impossible anyways given her restrictions ) and I was literally dying for this day to come! This day when I break her isolation and can freely see her …. not simply as the girl I love but as my lawfully wedded wife!…. All the pre-marriage ceremonies had been done, the last one being the haldi ritual in which .. and I must say rather embarrassingly … was covered in paste of turmeric.. well if its any consolation so did Aarti..

As agreed between our families and between me and my father, the actual ceremonies must be kept short and surprisingly enough.. we agreed to a kind of composite marriage honoring both marriage rituals. Sure enough, Aarti could be dressed in the most traditional outfit, which included a gorgeous red bridal sari draped over her and wrapped around her, underneath that would be her ‘modesty’ measures….. Ah1 but there was something special about these bonds… they were all in gold! Her arms would be wrapped in ornate chains with bangles at her elbows and wrists, her hands painted with mehendi with the most exquisite designs… she could still move her hands albeit in a restricted manner. She wore a bejewelled face mask underneath the ghunghat formed by her ornate and jewel encrusted sari….The mask whilst hiding Aarti’s face left her eyes open, and contained a gag within it, the device was locked with a chain in the back of her head.

This dress code wasn’t necessary for Maratha women but was so for the Hindus of Punjab. My parents still decided to give the Khannas this concession in what was to be a very modest marriage in any case, only close friends and immediate family were invited, naturally I’d invite Raashi as well to see the marriage ceremony, she came dressed in a purple sari with a silk veil tied in the Punyanagari style, my mother decided to make an exception for the day and also donned the veil…, partly I suppose in placating my grandparents who were also present and partly in placating the bride’s family. The Marathi men on the other hand had only to wear a hat and a string of flowers standing on the other side of a raised curtain. The only ceremonies we decided to observe were the raising of the curtains (or ‘antarpat’ as is called here ), the saptabadi, kanyadaan and lastly, the 7 rounds around a sacred fire. A pandit was brought who would chant the sacred mantras ensuring our marital bonds would be secured by the power of the gods.

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With that part over.. it was now onward towards spending the rest of the day together and looking forward to the much awaited ‘auspicious night’ when we would bond in sacred intercourse… but much more interestingly… I would free Aarti step by step from her veils and bindings…. I see her in our rose petal covered bed decorated lovingly by her mother with curtains of flowers hanging from the posts of the bed. I first open her ghunghat seeing her mesmerizing gilded mask.. she turned and looked at me.. and I could feel the intensity in her eyes at that moment.. I kissed her over the mask as I began untying its chain at the back of her head… each move evoked pleasurable moans from her.. making my heart beat faster with each step. The mask came off revealing Aarti’s face.. gasping for breath more due to the tension of the intercourse than the mask itself… she desired I’d leave her hands tied and move with unwrapping her sari and undergarments… the moments followed of extreme pleasure throughout the night…. later on I gagged her and added to the sexual pleasure of the experience. ….. I thought our first intercourse at the peak would be the best sex I would ever have ….. I was wrong.. Tonight was the night I shall remember as our night of bonding and love…

3rd December 2008
(The reception)

Our ‘modest’ little wedding ended yesterday, today was the day of the ‘not-so-modest’ reception organized by Aarti and her quite (ahem!) obviously rich family.. The hall for the party reception was chosen at the heart of Punyanagari city which is quite popular for marriage parties. It was gaily decorated with ribbons and garlands, full of color and pleasant smells. Classical Music bands played for us while family and friends of the Khanna’s enjoyed the delicious Punjabi food being served… the hall came alive with enjoyment and festivity that day. I should estimate that around 100 guests had come from the bride’s side and around a dozen from my side. Mostly my parents, friends from college and family friends of my father’s and their family.

My college mates congratulated me, of course I wouldn’t spare the opportunity of rubbing it in their faces how I managed to get the girl of my dreams and make her my wife! I could sense the sweet envy in their eyes hiding behind their fake congratulatory laughter! … I would of course invite Raashi, who came with her family. Her mother as well as she was dressed in a lovely sari, her hands covered in satin gloves and her face veiled with an ornate silk scarf. Her mother dressed similarly, and so did her sister.. Raashi introduced me to all of them. Aarti looked as gorgeous as ever in her salwar and dupatta, and rather elegantly conducted herself…. I suppose being silenced for long periods ‘trains’ you that way. The day passed rather well, and by night time all of us looked forward to getting back to our houses and having some rest… Aarti and I had now moved into our apartment. It was not quite as emotional a farewell as one would have expected, after all the Khannas lived right next door in the opposite society! No troubles there in meeting Aarti… even so there’s still an emotional angle in giving your daughter in trusted hands to another family..

……..And so began our married life, Aarti was right about how things would begin to look brighter once the marriage was over. There was a great sense of relief in both our minds, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of climax… a new chapter would now begin in our lives. Hopefully one filled with happiness. For now we had to get down to earth.. our studies were still to be completed.

 

Studies after marriage:

3rd January 2009

Results came out and surprised both of us! We scored top scores in our respective classes! I was seriously under the impression that I’d flounder most of the subjects… but no! I aced them! I suppose either I performed splendidly or the class performed miserably… in either case I still outperformed the class… This CGPA system makes things easier for me. Aarti’s results were just as good, though she hoped for better. My earlier apprehensions were done away with, and now I looked forward to us as a married couple. We’d still have to depend on our parents financially at least till I complete my studies, which I don’t intend to end prematurely. Even so, there would be some changes now, married life means marital duties and responsibilities. Aarti would now have to take care of me as any wife would take care of her husband and I in turn would have to care for her as any husband would for his wife. Within this we’d have to spend time for our studies.. Over and above this would be Aarti’s desire to be in restrictions most of the time. Definitely it required some careful balancing if we were to keep our studies going and maintain our marital responsibilities.

This is why we had a deal of sorts, with Aarti where we would share chores to save time for studies and, respecting her desire for strict modesty measures, she would be in bondage and veils for practically all of the day save a few hours needed for her meals and hygiene as well as the usual weekly love-making.

15th August 2009

The next semester exams are now declared to be in the first week of October this year. The last exam went well… so far so good. Everything in married life is progressing smoothly, our parents are providing for our education till we complete. We’re getting along smoothly.. no fights as such … and how could that be? Aarti does such a good job of being modest the mere thought of any fighting comes out as quite a joke! Married life with a Marathi girl would be quite different I should imagine, my parents talked about the first year of their marriage where they fought numerous times. Initially my parents would fight a lot, but then each time they fought they got back together and even closer! … their relation is what I’d call ‘dialectical’.. well I wouldn’t have been as good a manager of it honestly I still don’t get the logic. But there may be something of the sort between us as well, Aarti is a dialectical person… a kind of sublime combination of contradictions resulting in something beautiful. If any bouts of anger or frustration come out its always Aarti who doused the flame.

Well all of this would be nice for idle thought, but we have studies to catch up with. Usually during this pre-exam phase Aarti would completely isolate herself in her room in the apartment with her books and study material. A maid has been provided by my father-in-law to much relief to the both of us, to handle the cooking and cleaning of our flat. We can now focus more on our studies. I would admit doing the chores taking turns was not working out for us. Most of the days we just got our food on home delivery and it was a drain on our finances. I’d rather not have the austere life of conserving our consumption. Anyways, this was the time of internal assessments, I should just focus more on my studies. It seems most of this year would be spent in concentrating on studies anyway.

30th October 2009

And thus ended my college life…… this was the last semester of the course. All of my batch mates were rejoicing and nostalgic about a journey of their lives ending. For most of us now, we would begin the second journey of our lives as professional advocates or corporate officers. For me it was the corporate life in the prestigious Imperial Bank. I would be joining work after convocation this October, for Aarti, she would still be giving one more semester exam before putting her all into married life, she’s still continuing her good tradition of scoring high, good for the both of us I’d say. For me, I’m sure given my performance as well as extra curricular activities would fetch me great grades and a possible stipend! …. Life was going splendidly well and I was looking forward to Aarti completing college so we can spend more and more time together..

In the meantime I looked forward to my job at the Imperial Bank, I interned there last year and it was quite a good experience. I’d look forward to being there, it is a professionally run establishment with a capable and disciplined workforce, and decent technological infrastructure, and why wouldn’t it be? It is after all the 12th largest bank in the world! Taking care of the finances of the whole of the Maratha Empire and almost a third of the Asian continent is no mean thing. Neither would taking care of the legal responsibilities of the bank.

 

5 years later … life after marriage :

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It still surprises me how time passes… its been five years since our marriage… We are still as madly in love with each other as we were when we began this beautiful journey. True to our word to each other, Aarti would be living in strict veiling customs, with an under-veil worn for most of the day, and to be bound and gagged at all possible times of the day. The bondage measures taken from the natal village were kept too, for most of the day she would be veiled and bound and silenced. She would never go out without her gags, and most of the time I would be with her. But even when she did not wear the arm-binders and went on her own with just the gag, she would tie a band around her wrists just to keep the idea of arm modesty with her. Over time her veiling patterns did change a little, she was more and more embracing the Punyanagari veil in place of the typical North Indian ghunghat she saw from her natal village. Her gags would not always involve a face wrap, but she would recommend it each time, in the least she would be ball gagged with a single strip of tape over it. Given the choice between more and less bondage, she would always chose more… the same for veiling, the minimum was two layers but she’d at times take it to 3 layered, with 2 shawls wrapped over her bounded upper body. What was unchanged of course was the elegance with which she carried this look . Over time she adopted this dress code more regularly, and would only show her face and talk for 4 periods of the day: when eating breakfast, while having lunch, at night, also during her bathing time. She requested a maid to be kept to cook and clean so that she could enjoy being covered and silenced for as long as she liked.

My job was going just as fine, the pay was wonderful, but the perks were even better. We have moved from our apartment to a residential area around half an hour’s drive from there, in what is the military district of Punyanagari, it’s full of cottages of army officers and high ranking government employees. Surrounded by greenery and flowering trees on either side, it’s perhaps the most beautified area of the city! The government provides for our daily necessities and all our utilities are paid for by the Imperial bank.

The marriage was one I wouldn’t soon forget…Tomorrow will be our anniversary, and true to my word to her, we would have a BDSM sex each time… Each year we make it a point to indulge in it to observe our anniversary, and it would seem that very soon, our love would consummate in a child…. Ah yes the great news… this week we found out that Aarti was pregnant with my child. I can only imagine he or she would be as beautiful as my beloved… Aarti said she would remain observe being veiled even after the birth of the child.. quite unlike most Maratha women, but would reduce her time in bondage. Fitting enough, she would need to speak and move her arms freely to take care of our future child.

This life, this joy…. this entire journey till now… It still seems all like a dream, well if it is… may I never wake up!.. Each day is sweeter than the last when I wake up to the sight of my veiled princess in the morning with a cup of tea for me in her hand..

The end.

Back to the Maratha Empire menu…

 

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