Sitting on the elephant taking that mandatory ride, their bodies touching, each other’s touch enticing them. The dopamine effect had so embodied them. He slid his hand back and weaved his strong slender fingers in hers. Her soft pudgy grip felt divine. As he toyed with her ring, he could not help notice her pinkish nail colour and shapely nails that belied the hard work of a passionate farmer’s daughter. She herself worked the land with her papa and rarely used gloves. For a pianist of reasonable fame, his wedding with Laila was indeed something for the small countryside to talk about. He did not care. She was hers, and they were making the most of the time they had taken off from their respective jobs. These verdant hillscapes, the lush hues of green, hills all around them and the cool breeze, the slow majestic elephant and this ride. They were like two drunk together, in love. She squeezed his hand tight just as the tusker tripped over a small stone jutting out of the pebbled path. He quickly encircled her in his arms, and held her tight, the elephant had regained control, but this moment of bodies touching sent electric waves in his body and he wanted to be back in their hotel room. In her deep fruity voice, she expressed relief.
The ride done, they decided to sit and have a cup of strongly brewed cup of ginger tea. The small tea kiosk, along with others selling snacks, trinkets and small cheap souvenirs of the hill town of Ooty, was a tourist paradise. What a wealth of natural beauty! Relishable and peaceful. The shimmering water, the mix of greens and browns and the bed of flowers in the manicured gardens, this riot of colours with the intoxicating aroma of the tall eucalyptus trees made them fall in love with this heaven on earth.
Sipping tea in this salubrious setting, harmony reigning, Jake felt that same feeling of irritation in his throat come up again. He muffled his cough initially, but it became raucous and uncontrollable. Looking distraught Laila wondered what to do. Hand in hand they walked up to a chemist’s shop and bought some honey and ginger lozenges to soothe his complaining throat. He insisted on walking up the hill to their room. They walked past tea plantations on hilly slopes, The Nilgiri hills were famous for these plantations. These estates reminded Laila of her own farm, where they grew spices, the best India could ever have. Cardamoms, pepper, eucalyptus oil, cloves and nutmegs among so many others were the produce her father’s farms grew and exported. The rich exotic ambience and these amazing landscapes housed people sedate and homely. Something Jake loved about Laila.
Laila insisted on a doctor’s visit the next day. She felt he could be getting down with a viral fever. They took the appointment and spent the rest of the day resting up in their hotel room. Little did she know that the night would be her worst nightmare ever experienced. She woke up to Jake’s violent fit and with the help of the hotel authorities were rushed to the hospital. Just a few days into their marriage, the start to this new life seemed like the end to her panicky brain. But hope took over this feeling, and she braced up for a brave fight against whatever it would be. Ooty was the Shangri-la for the invalid.