The incessant vibration of the mobile phone that was lying under his pillow finally woke Virkar up. He groped for it and, through the half-open slits of his eyes, read the time. It was 6 a.m. Virkar simultaneously noticed that the call was from the Crime Branch Headquarters. Heaving a sigh, Virkar picked up the call. ‘Hello,’ he said into the phone and then listened silently to the breathless voice on the other end. ‘I’ll be there in half an hour,’ Virkar finally said, his voice still heavy with sleep.
He cut the call and sat up, his sleepy gaze falling on the crazy jumble of clothes on a chair next to the bed. It was only then that she stirred next to him, perhaps disturbed by the change in his position. Virkar turned towards her and, even though it was dark, he could make out the contours of her naked body against the bright white bedsheets. Her thick hair that stopped somewhere down the middle of her back was, at the moment, fanned out over her pillow. In his mind’s eye, Virkar remembered the first tantalizing cascade of her hair down her back when she had removed the wooden hairpin that she normally used to keep them tied up and away from scrutiny. It was at that moment that she was transformed from a scholarly young teacher to a sensual temptress. He had not been able to control himself after that and had lifted her up in his arms. Carrying her to the bed, he had returned the kiss that she had opened the proceedings with. The passionate animal that he kept caged inside him had broken out and taken over from then on.
They had left the Crime Branch Headquarters after he had finished questioning her. As he was still feeling a little bad at having bombarded her with the gory pictures of the murders, Virkar had felt obligated to offer her a lift out of sheer courtesy, even though her house was a little out of the way for him. He thought she was still miffed with him and would decline his offer but, to his surprise, she had accepted. She had hopped on behind him as soon as Virkar had gunned the Bullet.
As they made their way along Mohammad Ali Road, riding under the J.J. Flyover, Virkar could feel Naina’s warm arms wrap themselves around him. He had tried to maintain his studied nonchalance even though he could feel something stirring inside him. He realized that it had been a long time since he had felt the touch of a woman. He had ignored the growing yearning welling up inside him but his body seemed to have a mind of its own. The sinews of his muscles tightened wherever Naina’s arms touched. Virkar was afraid that she might become aware of his physical reaction to her, but she didn’t seem to notice at all. She held on to him through the entire forty-five-minute ride in the evening traffic.
As they reached her two-storeyed building in a King’s Circle by-lane, she had hopped off the Bullet and walked the few steps to the entrance of her building. Virkar was politely waiting for her to enter her building before taking off in the direction of his own quarters in Bhoiwada when Naina suddenly turned and, looking straight at him, said, ‘I guess this is where I ask you to come up for a cup of tea.’
Virkar, however, not catching on, replied, ‘Thank you, but I do not drink tea.’ In the failing light, Virkar thought he saw the hint of an amused smile at the corner of Naina’s mouth.
‘Then perhaps I should offer to change your bandages,’ she said. Virkar was still recovering from the bullet wound on his shoulder. Though the doctor had declared that it was only a flesh wound, he had advised Virkar not to ride his Bullet until the bandages came off. Virkar, being the die-hard biker he was, had ignored that advice. At the moment, he was considering whether it would be polite to tell her that she didn’t have to do that, and that the doctor had called him in the next morning to change his dressing, but he didn’t get a chance. Naina had decided not to wait for an answer and had turned on her feet and walked inside her building already. As Virkar watched her receding back, the implication of her statement suddenly hit him. Feeling supremely sheepish and yet excited, he quickly found a parking spot for his Bullet and made his way to the apartment whose front door was open. She was clearly expecting him to work it out in his head and follow her in at some point. As he entered her apartment, he heard her voice call out from inside the bedroom: ‘Shut the door behind you.’
He followed her instruction only to receive another one: ‘Take off your shirt’. This time he hesitated, but only for a couple of seconds before undoing the buttons of his shirt and stripping down to the waist. A sense of anticipation coursed through him and he considered taking off his trousers, too. He was about to reach for his waistband when he stopped. Naina walked into the hall carrying a vessel of steaming hot water in one hand and rolls of cotton and bandages in the other. She stared at him as he stood bare-backed in the middle of the room, his hand frozen on the waist button of his pants. He stared back, not knowing how to react, his ears burning with embarrassment. The amusement in her eyes was now very clear for him to see, but her tone was matter-of-fact when she said, ‘Sit down on this chair.’ Lamb-like, he followed her every instruction from then on. Her touch had been soft but her hands had been sure as they had gone about swabbing his wound and changing the bandage with the deftness of an expert. Virkar couldn’t help looking impressed when she was done, and received a broad smile from her in return. Shrugging her shoulders lightly, she said, ‘First-aid training during NCC camps.’
Virkar smiled back, but noticed that her expression had again turned inscrutable. He was still trying to figure it out when she reached for his face and planted a soft kiss on his lips. While he was still recovering, she reached behind her head and slipped out her hairpin, letting her long tresses do the talking. Her eyes had held his, and suddenly Virkar read everything that was written in them.
They had made love. Scorching, wanton, rough love. Their lovemaking session did not seem to stop as they had melted into each other again and again. Somewhere around midnight, they had fallen back on the bed, exhausted, and drifted off into the peaceful sleep that comes to lovers who have satisfied each other fully.
Now, pulled out of his sleep by the phone call, Virkar was torn between his duty and his desire. As he put his clothes back on, the object of his desire propped herself up on her elbows. In a throaty voice slurry with sleep, she said, ‘You don’t have to go. Stay.’
Virkar struggled with himself, but finally let the call of duty guide his actions. ‘I have to go,’ he said firmly as he continued to dress. ‘There’s been another murder.’