India Today - - LEISURE -

When he had gone, she re­mained stretched out on her pil­lows, lan­guid, glow­ing. She dis­cov­ered sud­denly that she loved Ak­bar, and was as­ton­ished by the rev­e­la­tion, as­ton­ished too that it had taken her so long to re­al­ize it. Their sen­sual friend­ship, their work-re­lated com­plic­ity and their shared tri­als had pre­pared, with­out her be­ing aware of it, fer­tile ground for love to bur­geon and bloom. It was not the same pas­sion that Roger had in­spired in her, nor the spir­i­tual hold Firoz Shah had ex­er­cised over her. What she felt for Ak­bar was love. Un­der­stand­ing it made her value more clearly, more deeply the love that Ak­bar bore her, and she was im­mensely relieved. It seemed to her that once again en­ergy and op­ti­mism were surg­ing in her veins.

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