The story, the story, but of course!--that's what it was all going to lead to. But before we got to it, there were so many other stories in the way, tangled like vines in the dark and dense undergrowth of some tropical jungle of the imagination. Like the wedding guest in the "Ancient Mariner," I felt compelled to listen.
Dinner, or whatever little I had managed to swallow of it, was over. Quite a bit of uneaten food was still left on the table. This went completely against my principle of not wasting food, but I was to discover that this was the least of my principles which I would be violating in the months to come. Somehow, all these strict and narrow rules of conduct that had propped me up, insulating me from life, making me feel smug, safe, and superior, would be knocked down one by one.
We decided to adjourn to the Coffee Shop for dessert. Badri suggested the change of the venue to clear the atmosphere which had become rather depressing after his account of his molestation as a child. I liked the shift because I was feeling kind of stuffy in the crowded restaurant, so full of eating, smoking, and chattering people. The Coffee Shop of Lambada, before the renovation, used to be located outside, in the open air, on the wooden deck at the edge of the artificial lake atop which the hotel was perched.
The air was cool at ten. Though days are warm in October, nights are always pleasant in Hyderabad. The Coffee Shop was practically empty. Only a couple of tables in addition to ours were occupied. At the far end, near the railings, sat a young couple, quite predictably and totally absorbed in one another. Nobody disturbed them in the comfort and intimacy of the semi-darkness. A little distance to our right sat a man, drinking coffee, alone. His cigarette glowed fiercely as he
dragged on it. Lambada Hills rose in tiers in front of us, lit up in glimmering diadems. Behind us was the city, its lights twinkling in yellow flickers.
Badri resumed his narration.
"The real break with my Uncle came when, as was inevitable, Meeno and I were discovered one day. My Aunt went to the temple on Saturdays. My Uncle had gone to the office; you remember it used to be a six day week then. The other kids were playing outside. And Meeno Didi and I were alone in the house. It must
have been about eleven-thirty in the morning. Didi had finished washing the dishes and cleaning the house. I was studying quietly.
"Then it started. Meeno came to me and covered my eyes with her hands: `Peekaboo! Who is it?,' she giggled.
`I know who it is,' I said peevishly, `why must you continue to treat me like a baby?'
`How can it be otherwise? You'll always be my baby. And I'll always be true to you, isn't it?'
`No, no. I am not your baby anymore. I have grown up. I want to be ... somebody, anybody, myself,' I said hesitatingly.
Meeno seemed to be annoyed. `If you're a man prove it to me,' she said very suggestively.
In a swift movement she untied her salwar. It fell down to her feet. She had no underwear on. I saw the thorny protruberance of her pudenda under the welt of her belly. I turned my face away.
`No, no, Didi, please....' I gasped, trying to push her away.
`Didi ke bacche, abhi dikhati hoon,' she retorted. She dragged my chair back so that I faced her. Putting her hands inside my pyjamas, she grasped my penis expertly. Without my being aware of it, it was tumescent. She stripped me and began to fondle me. `Unnh, unnh, unnh,' she moaned, her face contorted. She looked at me triumphantly. She hissed, `Now tell me you don't want it, you little bugger.' I winced at her words.
`Don't think I don't know what Babuji does to you. I know how you enjoy that. But when I come near you, it's always na, na, na. Why? Tell, me you little monkey. Just wait, I'll teach you a lesson.'
When she mentioned my Uncle, I felt lost and exposed. All my shame and self-respect seemed to be trampled into the dust. My penis was still in her hand, but I had lost my erection. That didn't bother Didi, though. She had been through these phases with me before. Self-loathing followed by pleasure followed by
guilt. She knew how to both give and take pleasure from me; how to use guilt to neutralize the pleasure, and then pleasure to neutralize the guilt."
Badri paused, lit a cigarette. He didn't ask my permission; I didn't object. To be fair, it was the first cigarette during our meal and I had expected him to light up, as did all my smoker friends, after the meal. Friends are like that: they always seek your permission in the beginning, but then gradually start imposing their vices upon you, almost as a price for their friendship. We were eating vanilla ice-cream. It was specially made for this hotel and utterly delicious. Even Badri's
sickening stories couldn't blunt my enjoyment.
"Do you know," Badri said reflectively, "beautiful women are always the most sought after. We make sex objects out of them. We glamorize them. We sell products using their faces and bodies. But when it comes to sex, pure and simple, it makes no difference if you're beautiful or ugly. Beauty is confined to
the face and maybe to the curves of the body. But every woman's cunt works the same way. There are no ugly or pretty cunts. In fact, all you have to do is switch off the lights and every woman can be a Rekha in bed.
"In reality, ugly or plain women give you better sex. They have fewer nakhras, fewer hangups. They work harder. They are humble. They want to compensate for their lack of good looks by giving you lots of sukh. Good lookers, on the other hand, tend to be haughty. They think because they're pretty, they've done
all that they could do. They just lie on their backs and think their job is over. They want you to do the rest. They don't work hard in bed at all. There must be exceptions, of course, but the ugly ones are better in bed."
The only woman I had slept with was Neha, my lawfully wedded wife. Our sex life, I suppose, was average. It was good after we were married, great just before she got pregnant, when we were trying to make a baby, that is. Otherwise, it varied from being practical, mediocre, or non-existent. And Baddy's escapades
with prostitutes in college had happened only in the imagination, based on hearsay. So I had not sufficient experience to agree or disagree with Badri. What he said seemed to be logical, but I couldn't ignore the odour of misogyny pervading it.
I finished my ice cream while Badri's disquisition on sex continued. We now waited for our, rather, Badri's coffee, and my glass of hot milk. The latter seemed to be a problem at this late hour. The hotel didn't really have whole dairy milk, but only whiteners and creamers. What was given to me was watery and foul tasting. Badri made a big fuss about it. The captain was called. The couple in the shadows looked up momentarily before they resumed their romancing. The man drinking his coffee alone left at this point, smiling vaguely in our direction.
Badri's mock rage seemed to work. In ten minutes there was a fresh glass of milk, sweetened and boiling, with chopped almonds and pistachio nuts in it. The captain told Badri, "This is specially for you, Sir. It's not on the menu." Badri casually slipped a fifty-rupee note into his hand and said, "Nor is this, buddy."
Badri sipped his coffee. "I don't even feel like resuming that sex scene I was describing to you. A twenty-seven-year-old woman with her fifteen-year-old adolescent cousin. Isn't it rather sad? What we go through in our families, I mean?
"Anyway, soon enough she found that I had stopped protesting and was going along with it as usual. I thought that was the only way out for me. Just to go along with everyone. After all, as I always rationalized, it was only my body they were fucking. To hell with it. I wanted to get back to my studies, back to my
books; that I knew was the only way out of this place for me.
"We were both on the floor, on our haunches. Her salwar was lying in an untidy heap on her feet. Her legs were parted, knees up. The kameez come down to her knees, covering them. She had her back to the door. From the back she looked completely clothed; from the front her gaping sex stared at me, its pink
gash glistening like a fresh affront. The pubic hair sprouted all about this flame like a dark, scraggy undergrowth.
"My penis was semi-erect in her hand, tilting to one side. She had pulled down my foreskin and was shaking it gently, good-naturedly, coaxing it into responsive hardness.
"She held my hand, gently brought it to her verge. She moved it up and down and began to moan softly. I felt her tender, wet flesh, like a warm, open, wound, soaked in blood. She guided my finger inside her, moving sideways, spreading her legs wider till it was inside her, all the way, gliding in with swift ease. It
felt like I was dipping my hand in hot ghee.
"We were both moaning, in rhythm--unh, unh, unh. There were tears in my eyes. I always feel like this, to this day, when I came close to orgasm. The pain, the pain, the pain of it. It was as if I was being torn from inside, as if my soul were being tattered, stripped, and hung out in long thin pieces to dry in the hot sun.
"Didi was already climaxing. I could feel her throbbing and quivering. Her eyes were closed. I couldn't believe I was giving her so much pleasure. I looked at her tightly shut eyes, face savage and sublime, with awe. Her body was remarkably still, almost worshipful and obeisant in attitude. Head tilted a bit forward, almost kneeling, as if she were about to pray. The body looked so humble, thankful for its underserved happiness as it were, that I forgave her instantly.
"I put my other hand on her head, pulled her to me, buried my head in her chest, and sobbed, sobbed, sobbed, my seed erupting out of the very depths of my bowels in awkward hot jets, soiling her hand, my pyjamas, and falling in a sticky mess on the ground..."
"Must you be so very detailed?" I found myself interjecting.
He waved his hand to silence me, as if he had anticipated my objection.
"No indeed, I'll put an end it," he said cooly. "Because that's exactly when the door burst open, and my Mamaji shuffled inside."
|Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape|