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Vedant and Trisha’s romance blossomed in the two years they were together at JNU. To her parents, she appeared to live in her little room on campus, but in reality she had moved in with Vedant and used his penthouse as her own. She also had his car and driver at her disposal. The two of them increasingly relied on one other. He needed her for his rallies, gathering votes and acknowledging him as a new politician. She loved his attention, the constant need in his life for her to fix everything. He felt helpless without her. She picked out even his clothes. She managed his routine, his life. He loved her for her independence, her passion and her logical head. She loved him idiotically, madly, and extremely passionately. She lost herself in him and was happy doing so. After all, she figured, this was true love—where one is able to give to the other unconditionally.
Neither of them had told their parents that they were dating each other. Vedant felt that it was too soon to tell and Trisha wasn’t sure how her parents would react so she kept the most important part of her life hidden from them.
Trisha had fallen in love with Vedant in spite of his very conservative family and background. Having been brought up as the only son of a powerful, highly ambitious, politician who had made it from rags to riches, Vedant had seen a stark reality. His mother was a simple middle-class Maharastrian housewife who knew little else aside from making amazing bondas and loyally supporting her husband’s career. His father had groomed Vedant from an early age to enter politics. He used to go for party meetings with his father instead of playing football with his friends. When the time came, Vedant was sent to New Delhi by his father to learn the inner workings of Delhi youth and politics. His father had told him to muster confidence and acquire street smarts before he came back to Mumbai and joined him as a political ally. Vedant’s father had thought through everything. He was keen to present his son as a graduate from JNU, an intelligent, educated politician who cared about the people and smart enough to usher in changes for a brighter future.
Vedant had come to the politically rife climate of JNU to do just that—learn the ropes at the grassroots level of students’ politics. His entire upbringing had prepared him for this phase in his life. He could never think of a life beyond politics. Or for that matter, ever saying no to his parents. How could he? They had given him everything and had made huge sacrifices for his happiness. There was no question of becoming anything else but a politician. If his parents had been aware of his flings with women, they had chosen to ignore it. His father was convinced that Vedant would not be stupid enough to throw away his promising future for a woman. So if he told them now that he was in love with Trisha—a nobody with no political connections in their eyes—they would not only be mighty disappointed in him, worse, they could disown him. Vedant knew his father was capable of taking such a harsh step. Trisha was from a middle-class family and such affiliation wouldn’t help Vedant’s political career at all. The entire family had been having arranged marriages and most probably they had already set up a match for Vedant. If he went against them, Aamod Kirloskar would have a fit!
Though Trisha has led a sheltered life, her parents were, thankfully, liberal in their views. They didn’t have any preferences what career she chose as long as she spent enough time with them and focused on her academics. They had been proud of the way they had brought her up. Instead of indulging her every whim as an only child, they taught her to fight for what she wanted in this life with logic. They had always told her to apply her brains and exercise logic in her judgments. They had high hopes for her and knew she would make it, whichever career she chose. Somewhere, they wanted her to remain in Lucknow, but didn’t object when Trisha wanted to become independent and find her own destiny in Delhi. They were extremely proud of her academic accomplishments and lauded her for her strong, independent way of thinking. Trisha felt deeply indebted to her parents for trusting her enough to give her the freedom to live life the way she wanted. She didn’t want to upset them now by revealing a liaison with a politician’s son. Even though they were liberal thinking academics, they knew a politician’s son spelt trouble.
Trisha loved children and she spent much time in orphanages and the School for the Blind. She gave her time and energy to undertaking projects for them. Sometimes she wished Vedant would understand this aspect of her but he never did. ‘You’re spreading yourself too thin, honey,’ he would say when she was all flustered about a new project. ‘How are you going to do an art charity at the blind school and write your thesis for Goyal’s class? You don’t have time. Give up your social work. You have to help me for the next rally as well.’ He had come to realize what an asset she was for him in his fledgling political career and didn’t want her to waste time in charitable activities. He was gearing up for the next big rally on campus and desperately needed her support. He was trying to take over the JNUSU president’s post from the All India Students Association Subhavna De. If he succeeds, he would prove his mettle to his father and he could be quickly anointed as the party’s youth leader.
But Trisha was adamant about her ability to balance academics and charity work—after all, her passion lay in joining the development sector some day! In her heart she knew that organizing rallies for Vedant was the least of her priorities. She had successfully pulled off one rally when she was new at JNU, and the challenge had ended on that day itself. Even though she found his speeches and politics exciting, and had attended every one of them, she had finally figured over the course of two years spent at JNU, that politics wasn’t really her. She needed something more to feel complete. When she tried telling Vedant this, he had sulked and said, ‘But we’re so good together as a team.’ It led to a fight as she wanted him to desperately understand that she couldn’t only be doing rallies or writing speeches for him.
But Vedant has always been the consummate charmer. Even when he didn’t understand her point of view, he would always make her feel better after a fight by reciting Tennyson or singing Beatles. And Vedant’s version would always be better as far as Trisha was concerned. He had a soulful voice that connected with her own. When Trisha fought with Vedant, she would leave ‘I’m sorry’ notes in his room and in his books where he would find them. She would be the one who would buy him presents, surprising him with her little gestures. She didn’t have too much money but she would diligently save and go hunting for something that would cheer him up – a shirt from Sarojini Nagar with Elvis (his favourite rockstar) on it or Osho chappals sent from Pune that he loved wearing. She believed that small things went a long way in keeping relationships alive. She loved how he had come to depend on her not only for his speeches and rallies, but for even small things for his daily existence. Isn’t this what true love is about? she would think. She was ecstatic that she had finally found true love, the kind that made her breathless like the heroines in the novels that she had grown up reading. Trisha craved stability, family, love, togetherness. All of that, desperately. Most of all, she just wanted him. All the time. She wanted to be the person who brought his life together. She loved how he made her feel like a complete woman, beautiful, smart, motivated and grounded.
One evening when Vedant and Trisha were listening to Elvis in his penthouse, she started giggling. He looked up from his book and saw that she was staring out of the window and stifling a laugh.
‘What’s up?’ he asked.
She snuggled next to him. ‘I was just thinking how funny you would look if you had `Hound dog’ playing in the background while you were giving a speech in a white kurta pajama.’
‘You know I can’t listen to Elvis at home. I’m not allowed to.’
‘What? Why? But you love Elvis!’
Trisha was incredulous. It dawned on her that he had never shared intimate details of his home life, always giving her the larger brushstrokes of the family history that most people read about in the papers. He never mentioned childhood memories or his parents’ likes and dislikes. This was the first time he confided in something that gave her a whiff of how his family really was.
She pulled away from their snuggle and gave Vedant a look that told him to tell her more.
‘My mother is very conservative and listens only to bhajans,’ he said. ‘I have my own room and I can listen to my music on my ipod then again, she thinks it corrupts my brain. I don’t argue with her so I rarely listen to the music I like. Once I wanted to get a tattoo and she cried for two days blaming the music I listened to and herself for not bringing me up correctly! I just let the idea go. Why create unnecessary complications? And my father got angry for making my mom sick after that. So I didn’t think it was worth pissing my parents off.’
Trisha remained quiet. His family was so different from her own: How would I fit into it? Fear pricked her as she thought about it. But then Vedant hadn’t really popped the question either. Even after almost two years of being together, she was still waiting for a proposal. She knew she was only 24 years old but if they got engaged now, they could wait for a few years before finally getting married. This would give them both sufficient time to ease into their careers. She needed more of a commitment from him and Vedant always seemed as if he was unaware that she needed it. His indifference had started nagging at the back of her mind. She looked over at him as he lit up a Marlboro Light, his recently acquired habit that she absolutely detested.
He caught her expression and smiled apologetically. ‘This is the last one for today I promise. After graduation, I won’t be able to smoke without my family looking over my shoulder. My parents would just kill me if they found out.’ He flicked the ash into the ashtray.
Trisha found whatever he was disclosing about his parents today a little absurd. ‘Why?’ she asked. ‘You can live your life the way you want to. If you want to smoke, you should be able to. Even though it’s a disgusting habit! But still, it’s your choice. If you want to listen to music, wear particular clothes, or have a drink occasionally why can’t you do it without pretending?’
‘Because politicians don’t do that. It vilifies their image. And my parents don’t expect it out of me. Besides all this will change when I move to Mumbai. No more of the old Vedant. The new khadi-kurta, seedha-saadha Vedant will take over. The good boy who doesn’t smoke, drink or wear Armani.’ He chuckled softly.
‘But I love the real Vedant. When will he ever stand up for his rights before his family? And besides, today’s younger generation of politicians do wear the occasional Armani.’
Vedant didn’t have ready answers for her questions. He didn’t know any other life.
Trisha tried hard to hide her disappointment. She had wondered for the last two years if Vedant would ever figure out what he really wanted from life. Was he truly happy being groomed as a politician or did he want to embrace some other career? She had tried asking him this a couple of times only to receive ambiguous replies. She also wondered how he would stand up to his parents’ dictatorial regime once he was back in Mumbai.
‘Well, I have to go,’ Trisha said as she prepared to get up. ‘I need to start packing up whatever is in my campus apartment.’ She collected her purse but he held her hand.
‘Graduation will be in a week,’ he said. ‘I don’t know where we will be post that. Stay tonight please. You don’t need to start packing till later.’ He let go of her hand as she moved away from him. They stared at each other, letting the reality sink in. They would be going their separate ways in a week if neither of them took a step right now that will alter their lives. He had to propose to her and stand up for himself to his parents. He had to introduce her as the woman he wanted in his life. And she had to decide to be a part of his life in every way. Even if it meant giving up her dreams in Delhi and moving with him to Mumbai. But Trisha couldn’t take that step if he didn’t take it first. She was truly in love with Vedant. She was willing to make it work with his family if he just proposed.
She moved away to sit on her favourite place on the sofa. He stubbed out his cigarette and went to sit next to her. He flicked the remote of the music system on and a song from The Doors came on.
‘Did you know,’ he said as he slowly walked up to her while turning down the lights in the apartment with a remote control, ‘the 1960s California rock n' roll band ‘The Doors’ took their name from a William Blake quote.’ He stood within inches of her, not touching her but breathing softly and whispering, ‘They originally called themselves ‘‘The Doors of Perception’’ at the suggestion of lead singer Jim Morrison, who was studying film and literature at UCLA at the time.’
He started kissing her neck, softly, gently. His fingers lightly caressed her nipples through the shirt as he let her hair lie to one side over her breasts. She was transfixed by his words and his touch. ‘The band simplified their name to The Doors for marketing reasons, as it was easier to advertise, billboard, and remember.’
He started unbuttoning her blouse with his hands. ‘The full length quote that inspired Morrison with the band name is taken from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and is as follows.’
Vedant opened her blouse and cupped her large breasts in his hands, nestling his face in her cleavage, taking in her warm, lavender scent mixed with fresh soap. He gathered her waist and drew her close, wrapping his arms around her. He pulled her head back gently and kissed her deeply. It was warm and tantalizing as he moved down slowly to her breasts and blazed a trail of kisses from the curve of her neck to the roundness of her breasts while she surrendered to his passion. Open-mouthed, his kisses vividly betrayed his hard-driven desires which coursed like lightning through her body, exposing her own primal needs.
Trisha was breathless. ‘Vedant, I don’t really care anymore about The Doors. Take me to your bedroom door right now.’ His head rose slightly, and his tongue passed slowly along her parted lips, then penetrated to softly search and languidly possess every inch of her body. He pressed fevered kisses along the warm column of her throat, arching her backward over his arm, while his other hand stroked the roundness of her buttock and shapely thigh. She gasped in sweet agony. He felt the urgent need to know and touch every part of her, to claim her as his own, to let his lips wander at will over her soft flesh. She felt her defences weakening.
‘Are you ready to have some makeup sex?’
She breathed into his ears, ‘Oh yes. I so deeply want to make up.’
He made his way easily into the bedroom and shut the door behind him. He was sure she would always remember the night he told her about The Doors.