While Kismet was busy removing their luggage from the car boot, Priya appeared to be bouncing up and down with excitement. With their cases in his hands, he had to move quickly to keep up with her. Before they reached the front door, it was opened.
In the doorway stood a slightly plump, but still attractive older woman. She was smiling broadly as she held her hands out towards Priya.
"Priya, my dear child, here you are, my sweetie. Let me look at you. How happy you look"
"Hello, Mama. I'm so glad to be home again... but wait, Mama. Here are my good friends. This is Kismet. Kismet, this is my mother. Mama, this is Susmita."
"Welcome to our home, Kismet and Susmita. Priya has told us so much about you two. You two are such good friends to our daughter. Come in, my dears. You two are most welcome. Come inside and meet everyone."
While they drank tea, Mrs. Patel asked Kismet many questions. She wanted to know more about his family. She asked, for example, in what business his father was. He patiently answered each query in detail. She seemed to be well satisfied.
Priya was eager to remind her mother that Kismet was an Oxford graduate.
"Mama, I told you that he has an Oxford blue blazer."
"But Priya, your cousin has a blue blazer, and look at him."
Kismet could not help laughing.
"Mama, I'm talking about an Oxford Blue, an Oxford Blue!"
"So what kind of blue is that, my child?"
"Mama! It's a wonderful award. You get one only if you represent Oxford in a major sport, Mama."
Mrs. Patel turned to look at Kismet. She was now smiling broadly.
"I'm so glad Kismet. I see clearly now what a great honour your blue is."
Later, they all enjoyed a pleasant dinner. Mrs. Patel was indeed an outstanding cook who specialised in mouth-watering traditional dishes.
Mr. Patel explained that his other daughter, Kiki, Priya's older sister, was spending a few days with a friend. They had expected her back that evening but it had already become quite late. They had already assumed that she would most probably arrive on the next day.
Kismet was asked so many questions that at one stage he held up his hand until everyone became quiet. Then he made an offer.
"Wait. I can't answer all of these questions at the same time. So let me tell you about my youth in my own way."
"I think that the way I grew up is very different to the way South African youngsters do. First of all, my father was a well-to-do merchant. We grew up in a grand house... a haveli... and we lacked for nothing."
"Secondly, remember that Rajasthan has always been a feudal state. For the more well-to-do children there, it is normal to ride horses, fight with swords and to know how to dance. You see, I'm a Rajput descendant and we seem to do that kind of thing."
"It was also required that sons and daughters should receive the best education that their parents could afford. So that's why I was sent to Oxford and that is why I did fencing there.
At about ten that evening, knowing that they would all be together again the next morning, it was decided to retire for the night.
They all said goodnight to each other and began to walk towards their rooms.
Before Priya left the lounge, Kismet gently grabbed her upper arm.
"Come, Priya, it's too early for you and me. Let's go for a walk around the pool. Come on."
She smiled. It was obvious that she would really enjoy a few moments alone with him.
Talking and laughing, they walked halfway around the pool and then sat down on a bench placed between some frangipani bushes.
"So, dear Kismet. It went quite well tonight, didn't it?"
"Oh, your parents are great. So kind... but I did notice, however, that they were scrutinising me rather closely."
She punched him gently on the arm.
"I saw that but you handled everything so perfectly. I think that they have already become quite fond of you... but wait, my dear friend!"
"Wait for what?"
"The weekend has just begun. There's two days to go. Anything can still happen."
He edged a little closer to her but when he placed his arm over her shoulder, she immediately leapt up.
"Hey, I forgot. It's bedtime. I've got to go."
When he protested, she put a finger to her lips and then pointed with her finger at the house.
"Don't you know. Mama has the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a deer?"
Kismet gave a little groan of despair and then leant back in the bench. With a half smile he watched her walk away until she reached the house. Before entering she turned around for a brief moment. It was long enough for her to blow a gentle kiss at him. Then she disappeared into the house.
Kismet closed his eyes. He decided to enjoy the balmy evening, the fragrance of the flowers and the lapping of the small waves against the sides of the pool.
Kismet must have dozed off for a few minutes or perhaps even longer. When he opened his eyes, he saw the back of a woman standing in front of him. She was staring up at the sky. She was wearing a silky white night gown that revealed her form. It was obvious that she had a very shapely figure.
He recognised Priya's hair and the lines of her body. He was delighted that she had decided to come out to the pool again.
As silently as a panther, he rose from the bench and approached her. When he was near enough, he firmly wrapped his arms around her shoulders.
"Aha, my dearest. Who would have thought that we would meet again tonight? I've been thinking about you... dreaming about you... and here you are."
He felt her body stiffen so suddenly that he thought for a moment that she had gone into a state of shock. He was dismayed to hear her deeply strained voice.
"Oh, God! Please, dear God, not you, Jasmet! Not here at my home!"
As she whirled around, Kismet was taken aback not only by her action but also by his recognition of whom she was. Before he could say anything, she began to scream. She looked as if she was seeing her worst nightmare.
"Jasmet! Jasmet! Why have you come here? Have I not suffered enough? Have you come to take revenge? Do you want to ruin my life? Do you want to take from me the little peace that I now know? I've been dreading the moment when I will hear your voice again."
To smother her cries, Kismet placed his arms around her again and held her tight.
" For God's sake Alisha. What the hell are you doing here? Don't tell me you're Priya's sister. Tell me what's going on." While he was holding her, the whole place lit up. The house lights and pool lights had been switched on.
Soon, the whole household had streamed out. Everyone began to speak at the same time. Above the din, Mrs. Patel's piercing voice could be clearly heard.
"Young man! Oxford Blue and all! Honoured guest in our house. So-called friend of my darling Priya. There you are now cuddling her sister. Have you no shame?"
Kismet let the woman go. He saw that Mr. Patel's shotgun was pointing at him. That, however, was not his main concern. He searched until he saw Priya.
Priya was holding part of her night gown over her face. He had never seen her look so forlorn. It was as if she had experienced the most disappointing event in her life.
"Priya, this is not what it seems to be. Believe me..."
Mrs. Patel was not yet finished with her barrage of questions.
"Mr. Kismet, now you are saying that it was a mistake. What kind of mistake? Cuddling one sister here and then the other sister there."
"Please, Mrs. Patel. Let me explain..."
"Look at what you've done to Priya."
Kismet took a step towards Priya, holding his hands out towards her. He was taken aback by her cry.
"Oh, Kismet. Why did you do this? Were you not my friend? Why did you embrace my sister... here in my home... in front of my parents?"
For a while, Kismet stared compassionately at her. Then suddenly he turned holding up his hands.
"Enough! Now stop this at once. I'll tell you again... nothing happened! Nothing that you think happened did, in fact, happen! Oh hell! It doesn't seem to matter what I say... but please, at least, listen to this."
"I'm leaving now. Yes! Now! When things have calmed down and you have all come to your senses, I'll return. There is a story to tell, but I can't begin to tell it until you are all ready to listen."
He turned to look at Priya. When he saw that she had taken up a position behind her mother, he spoke tenderly to her.
"Priya, listen to me. I have not let you down."
He looked into her eyes for a while and then turned and walked through the house and out of the front door.
When he reached the garden gate, he somehow felt the presence of someone behind him. He turned around to see who it was. He saw Susmita.
Kismet looked back at Susmita with his eyebrows raised in question.
"It's you, Sush. What are you doing here? Go back. You belong with them."
"No, Kismet. You can't be left alone tonight. I'm coming with you. You can't stop me, so don't try."
"Okay, Sush. Perhaps I can use a friend tonight. Come on, let's go."
When he opened the gate, he saw something outside that instantly caused him to tense up.
He whispered softly to her "Stay here. Don't move!" Then he leapt forward like a panther.
While she stood transfixed, she felt that she was witnessing a movie in slow motion. It all seemed to happen in an instant.
He went swiftly to the driver window of his car and with a quick thrust of his clenched fist, through the open window, instantly rendered a man already sitting in the driver's seat unconscious. It had been a blow to his temple
Kismet immediately opened the door and pulled out the unconscious body. Then he half slid over the engine bonnet to the passenger side. There he opened the door, pulled out a second man and, while doing so, hitting him on the side of his head as well. A moment later, he had grabbed a third person sitting in the back seat. It took only one blow to make that person to drop instantly to the ground, as well.
Susmita continued to look on in stunned amazement. She saw Kismet drag the three unconscious men onto the sidewalk and place them next to each other. Then, quite calmly, he removed each person's belt and shoelaces. These were thrown onto the back seat of his car. Finally, he walked around the car and held the passenger side door open for Susmita. He waved one of his hands with an exaggerated flourish.
"Madam. Kismet at your service. I'm sorry about that scene. They caught me on a bad day."
Although she was still in a state of shock, she managed to raise a faint smile. She sat down and watched Kismet walk around the car and sit down next to her. He turned to look at her. He had a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Shall we go and have some coffee, my partner-in-crime?"
She looked at him in wonder. After those very dramatic scenes inside the house and then again out on the street, there he was, completely at ease. Yes, he was even smiling as if nothing important had happened.
"That would be great, Kismet. There's a roadhouse down the road. Go on for four blocks and then turn left."
"Let's go then, Sush. I think that we need to discuss some of the things that we have been through tonight."
They rode on in silence for a while. Then Susmita, having by now somewhat recovered her composure, made a suggestion.
"Of course, Kismet, we must talk... and that's really why I'm here. Let's sort this whole thing out. Let's try and put the bits and pieces together."
Then, seeing a fleeting image, her expression changed completely and she burst out laughing.
"Oh my, Kismet. You're so funny. You continue to amaze us all... but I must ask you one question first."
"What's that, Sush?"
"Why the belts and shoe laces? What do you want to do with them?"
He looked at her and smiled.
"How should I put it? Okay, let me rather ask you this. How much more harm can they do tonight if they have to hang onto their trousers and wear shoes that keep on slipping off?"