Master of the Moon: Chapter 12


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June 13th 2013
Published: June 13th 2013
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Several weeks pass without any visits from Sunita, or even sideways glances in the office. They address each other formally when their paths cross in the office. Then one day, the previous regime of smiles and glances is restored as though there has been no hiatus at all. How lovely she looks. Frank seizes the day. He writes: Would you like to join me for lunch tomorrow?

A note lands in his in-tray shortly afterwards: I would be pleased to join you for lunch tomorrow, Yours sincerely, Sunita



The large office Land Rover that ferries the local staff to their homes for lunch drops them off at the compound gates of his palace. The relationship cannot be publically acknowledged, and so they go through the motions of being no more than colleagues simply sharing lunch together, knowing full well that it is a performance that fools no-one. The others, sharing the vehicle with them, play their parts, making polite conversation and keeping straight faces. The lovers blot out the awareness that they will be gossiping about them behind their backs.

Frank leads the way to his flat, Sunita following a discreet distance behind. Their slow amble belies the urgency they feel. Hira brings some plates of rice, lentils and meat, the usual Nepalese fare, sets them on the table, and then departs without saying a word. They eat hurriedly and then proceed to their amatory dessert, after taking care to lock the door and cover the naked window with the table-cloth.

Sunita seems to be in high spirits. She has brought a transistor radio with her, and peremptorily interrupts their coitus to listen to an announcement from the Palace. She has obviously been keeping an eye on the clock. Still connected and unfinished, they hear of the engagement of Prince Birendra, the eldest son of King Mahendra, to be married. Frank is then permitted to complete what he has started, but feels annoyed that the announcement of the royal engagement takes precedence over love-making.

“The radio seems to have made you very happy,” he says.

“I have wonderful news,” she announces merrily.

“Well?”

“I have been awarded a scholarship to study French in Paris!” His heart sinks and his face sinks with it.

“When?”

“Next month,” she says, smiling broadly.

“You seem happy,” he says, sourly.

“Of course!” she says. “You must be happy too!” she says with a cruel grin. She pulls the hairs on his backside, and she keeps on pulling them with such persistence when he tries to put a stop to it, that he is reduced to helpless laughter, and the more he laughs the more she tugs.

“So you prefer France to me,” he says, having finally mastered the giggles.

“No, of course not. I want to become a perfect wife so I can serve you perfectly,” she says in a haughty, aristocratic way, disarming him completely. “Just like Princess Aishwarya. She will be a perfect wife for Prince Birendra, and I will be a perfect wife for you.”

“My wife? I thought you could never become my wife,” he says.

“God will decide,” she says.

“Not your mother?”

“God will guide her,” she says.

“How will the French language help you to be a better wife?” he asks, not wanting her to dwell on the kind of reasoning that had led her to conclude that marriage was an impossibility.

“So I can speak to you in any language you want,” she reasons.

“English is enough,” Frank says.

“But the French Embassy is generous with scholarships. Not like you mean, diplomatic, British!”

Frank looks at his watch and jump out of bed. “We're late!” he says. They quickly dress themselves, and walk out of the flat, through the garden, and out onto the road. They stand apart, like work colleagues. The office car comes by and picks them up and takes them back to the office for the afternoon.

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