An Air Warrior and prolific writer with over 200 published short stories and 14 books on fiction
Madan returned from the airbase sad and disillusioned. He had just received a small note from his wife in which she had informed him that she was leaving him. The slanting handwriting which he recognized as belonging to his wife affected his demeanor. He had an inkling it was coming but then human nature is such that one always hopes for the best. He was hoping Kavita will come back but now with this note, he knew that she had gone with her lover, God knows where?
Madan had told the officer commanding of his Squadron that he needed a week's rest. The OC knew of his predicament and straightaway approved the furlough. He further added, "Look, Madan, go to a quiet place so that you can regroup yourself. Who knows what will happen there?"
Madan didn't want to delay and so he quickly packed a few things in his bag and walked quickly to his Ford Mustang. This was a car he had purchased two years back and he had taken his wife for many a thrilling ride. He sat in the car wondering where to go. It was the winter month of December and he wanted to leave Delhi as quickly as possible. He thought for a moment and decided to drive up north into the Himalayas. On the spur of the moment, he decided to go to Dalhousie about 250 km away from Delhi. A small but exclusive holiday resort in the Himalayas. It was a favorite of the British and he had been there earlier. He decided to drive to Dalhousie and set the Mustang into motion.
He put the car into gear and pulled the hood down. It was a convertible. He began to move along the national highway towards Ambala and then on to Pathankot. It was getting dark but Madan was keen to reach Dalhousie as quickly as possible. He sped across the highway like a phantom. His black mustang made a roaring noise in the dead of the night and within an hour and a half, he had passed Ambala and was heading towards Pathankot. Another two-hour drive and he was at the foothills to Dalhousie. It was still dark but he decided to go up the mountain.
Madan put the traction control in the car and the powerful machine began to climb up the Himalayan mountain. Dalhousie is about 70 km from Pathankot but the road is zigzag and winding. Driving up the hill took him nearly an hour. He reached the top when the first light of the sun hit the deck. Madan reached the resort. He had last visited the place two years back. This time it was the month of December. Winter was in full swing and he knew there would be very few visitors to the resort. As he drove into the foyer of the resort the liveried gateman ran up to him.
"SAHIB are you going to stay here"
"Yes," Madan replied, "maybe for a week. Take my luggage to my room while I sign in at the reception."
The formalities having been completed Madan went to his room and sat down on the sofa. He was aware the hotel was almost empty but he liked it this way and hoped he would get out of his blues. The day passed in no time and soon it was evening. He had spent some time strolling in the mountains even as the cold wind enveloped him.
Looking at the sky, he knew it would rain and maybe if the temperature went down it could snow also. A nice place he thought to get over his break. At about 730 in the evening he came out from his room and proceeded to the Dining Hall. It was empty but then decided he didn't want to eat in the dining hall and beckoned the waiter.
"Look, pal," he said, "is it possible that you can layout dinner and drinks for me in the porch?"
" But Sir, it's very cold and it might snow also."
"That's okay" Madan replied as he moved towards the door to go out into the porch. The waiter followed him and said, "Sir, you are doing exactly what madam does every day."
Loving a Princess
Madan was slightly surprised at this and wondered what the waiter meant by these words. He pulled his overcoat around him and sat down at the table looking out into the night outside. Thunder began to rumble and a cold wind began to blow. He sat at the table, while the waiters served him pegs of Chivas Regal. After about half an hour he heard a noise and looked to his right and saw that another table was being laid out. He wondered who that person could be and he waited expectantly.
He had not long to wait as a woman entered with a brisk step towards the table. She had a regal mien and was dressed in a pant and a woolen cardigan. She wore a cap and hair were tucked in. Madan could make out that she was slim and reasonably tall with long legs. In the gathering gloom with the light on the porch, she appeared to him almost like a goddess. He wondered what this lady was doing here.
The lady sat at the table and no words were spoken by her to the waiter. Probably he knew what she wanted and very soon he returned with long glass, probably a cocktail. Another waiter appeared with some snacks and she began to sip her drink. She didn't look at Madan but she was aware of him. Madan was sure that the girl had noticed him. Myriad thoughts went through his mind. He wanted to get up and talk and say something but he just kept silent. Madan drank his whiskey. The lady did the same and no words were spoken. After some time she got up and left.
Madan was intrigued by this mysterious woman. from her gait, he could make out she was an exciting woman and he wondered what she was doing in this lonely resort with the winter and snow all around.
The next day passed quickly and before Madan could say, Jack Robinson, it was evening again. He had spent the day skiing at the King's School. He felt vigorous and strong. He once again asked the waiter to lay out his table on the porch. Just as he sat down and the waiter had brought the kebabs, it began to snow. A chilly wind blew all around and the waiter asked, "Sir, will it not be proper for you to enter the dining hall?"
Madan dismissed his question with a flourish of his head and began to sip his whiskey.
He was wondering whether the lady would come again. Instinct told him she would come and soon the lady came. She came to the porch and sat down. This time she sat on the table next to him. This was probably the handiwork of the waiter. Madan wondered what could have been in his mind. Was he told by anyone? he had a wild thought; what if it was the lady who had told the waiter?
Now the lady sat just two to three feet away from him and he could see her face. She had a lovely face and Madan could make out she was very pretty. She had an aquiline nose and large expressive eyes. As the snow began to fall, she pulled her coat around her body.
Madan got up from his table and approached the lady.
"Madam," he said, "would you mind if I join you for a drink I am alone like you."
The lady looked at him with clear blue eyes which shone in the semi-darkness and the light of the porch. It was cold, yes very cold but Madan was not feeling the cold at all, as he looked at the girl sitting on the table sipping from a long glass. He did not wait for a reply but pulled a chair and sat down facing the beautiful muse. He could look into her face and said," I hope you don't mind. Let me introduce myself to you I am in a fighter pilot and I am here for a holiday."
She did not reply and continued sipping her drink. Madan was glad that she had not rejected his idea of sitting with her. He suddenly began to feel light-hearted. Such is life and the effect a beautiful person has on a man.
"Should I ask the waiter for another drink?" Madan asked.
"Don't bother," she replied, "as the waiter knows what I drink and I have been here already for a few days."
"But," Madan replied, "what are you enjoying in this lonely place all alone?" She looked at him and without blinking answered, " you are also here all alone and you would not like to tell me why you are here."
Madan sipped his whiskey and replied," I don't mind telling you why I'm here. I am trying to get over a heartbreak."
" You are lucky," she replied, "As you're only trying to get over heartbreak but I am trying to get out of torture."
Torture, the word shook Madan and he asked, "who is torturing you?"
She did not reply and abruptly got up. " You sir! are not allowing me to have my drink to drown my sorrow ."
"Look," Madan said," That is not my intention. I would honestly like to help out."
As if on cue the heavens burst asunder and heavy rain began to fall. The lady then did something inexplicable as she rushed out into the cold winter rain.
"Look," Madan said, "don't do it."
However, he could do nothing as the girl ran out into the rain. He followed her even as the rain beat on the earth and a cold wind blew. Madan had a feeling that tonight it might snow also. He caught up with the girl and with water all around in a torrent said, "look don't be silly."
He was genuinely concerned for the girl who was now getting drenched. Friends, those who know Dalhousie and the winter soon learn that when you get drenched with the cold wind blowing it can have a deleterious effect on your body. Madan was a military officer and he used his brute strength and just lifted the girl in his arms. Cradling her carried her back to the porch.
"You are wet and drenched," he said, " allow me to take you to your room so you can change your clothes and warm yourself."
She didn't answer and kept her eyes closed. Outside the rain continued to fall and thunder rent the air again and again. Far away it boomed and lightning hit the earth.
Madan cradled the girl in his arms and climbed up the Victorian staircase to her room. She did not protest as he pushed open the door and entered inside. Nobody was around and Madan wondered what would happen next.
"Look," the girl said, "thank you for what you have done. I had lost my mind. I was just wondering about the torture of a man who would put lighted cigarette butts on my body."
The gallantry of Madan got hold of him and asked, "who the hell is this chap?" "you don't have to know," she replied, "he may be anybody but suffice to know that when lighted cigarette butt is pressed to your body it's very very painful. Now go away."
The exertion had taken its toll and Madan felt light-hearted with whiskey and kebabs. He also felt a strange power over the girl he had carried from the rain to her room.
He said, "I'm not going. I want to see the burnt cigarette marks on your body."
" Are you crazy," she replied, "you expect me to show you all this."
"No," Madan replied, "no, but I know you are a tortured soul and I just want to make you happy."
He kissed her and at the same time pulled the copper-red cardigan over her head. He tried to pull her pants down but they were wet and it took some effort for him. The lady was passive all along.
All she murmured, "Don't, don't do it," but the conviction had gone out of your voice and as Madan continued to kiss her he felt she was responding. She was soon bare before him and he could see on her buttocks and back the marks of the burns. He did something that did not elicit a protest as he softly kissed the places which had been burnt by the cigarette.
The rest was something that was like a sophomoric delight. It was like a hedonistic act that is sometimes witnessed by the gods themselves. It looked like it lasted a long long time and the lovers felt they were suspended on a girder with a storm lambasting them all around. What starts must end and so it happened in this case also.
He left the room after the act and went for a sound sleep. He realized that he had got over his handicap and the blues were a thing of the past. He did not go out anywhere the next day and waited for nightfall again. He was sure that the lady would once again come and sit on the table and this time he had a feeling they would be together.
He reached the porch a little early in the evening and said down at the table. He signaled the waiter to come to him and asked, "when madam comes, bring her to my table."
The waiter looked at Madan and replied slowly, "Sir, but she has already left." "what do you mean?"
"Her car came in the morning and she paid her bill and left"
"How can that be?"
"Sir, she has left you a small envelope."
"Yes, give it to me"
At the same time, he wondered who this mysterious woman was whose name also he did not know. Despite that, he could not forget the night which he had spent with her, that was something out of this world.
The waiter brought the envelope and Madan opened it. He pulled out the white sheet of paper and noted it had a name and an embossed emblem on it. He was surprised that the letterhead was that of the Maharajah of Kapurthala. So the lady was a princess! he didn't want to read the letter.
He crumpled the letter in his hand and was going to throw it away but better sense prevailed and he folded it and put it in his pocket. He smiled at the boy and said, "Look, friend, I am also going away." "But Sir, you said you were going to spend seven days here."
Madan handed a 500 rupee note to the boy. "I have one question, will you answer me truthfully?"
"Ÿes Sir, "he replied
" Tell me who asked you to arrange the dinner table yesterday night?"
"Why sir! It was the lady herself. I did what she wanted."
Madan felt happy and he wondered whether he would ever meet the Princess of Kapurthala again. He was a man who had never taken 'no" for an answer but that is another story.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 21, 2020:
Thank you Anupam, I think there is a second part of the story also. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on July 21, 2020:
You leave the readers to muse upon your story even after you have done your part.
Interesting but so many unanswered questions
Any second part?
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 19, 2019:
Thank you Pamela for sparing time and commenting
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 19, 2019:
I think this is a very good story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 17, 2019:
Dear Rosy, thank you for commenting. Yes, I was the Director at the Renaissance Resort at Varca. May God be with you
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 17, 2019:
Thank you for sparing time and commenting
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 17, 2019:
An enjoyable story. Thank you for sharing.
Rosy Ferrao on December 17, 2019:
I am from Goa. I wonder you are the same man I met years ago. All the same its a wonderful tale and I hope the hero went to his princess and claimed her