The Narrator

  

                                                                        

                              FOURTEEN

 

          

    Baddy collected rejection slips from the leading literary journals of the world, Times Literary Supplement,  Atlantic Monthly, Critical Quarterly, London Magazine, Triquarterly, and several others.  He'd got their names from a book called The Writer's Market.  How many glorious hours he had spent in day-dreaming, hoping he'd be accepted in one of these "esteemed forums."  He wanted to arrive on the literary scene with a big bang.  But nothing happened to interrupt his chain of rejections.

Each time something came back, it took so much time and effort to send it out again.  Usually, the ms. was crumpled beyond redemption.  It looked so obviously rejected and returned.  How could I send out the same piece elsewhere?  The least I could do was to have it retyped.  And all of this cost much in time and money.

    In those days, there were no modern xerox machines in India. You had to rely on what was called, "Photostat" or Ammonia Prints.  This was a lengthy process in which a negative was first made on glass sprinkled with some kind of powder.  Then a positive copy came out, none too clear, on glazed paper.  Each copy cost Rs. 2, the same as what it took to get each page retyped.  So I usually preferred that latter.  Sometimes, the first carbon copy too was good enough to send out.  So I

preferred typing to Photostat, though it took much longer to get done.

    Then, came the postage charges.  Foreign postage was frightfully expensive.  If you wanted your manuscripts back you had to enclose a self-addressed envelope with international reply coupons.  The latter were available only at the GPO, which was thirty kilometres from the College.  Moreover, each coupon was about ten bucks.

    Baddy, after all, however real, had no independent financial existence.  It was I who had to spend all the money from my meagre allowance.  My dad couldn't figure out where all my money went, why I was always asking for more.  How could I explain to him that I needed funds for not one, but two people--and one of

us, Baddy, was much more expensive to keep than a simpleton like me.  I couldn't very well reveal my dark secret, so I began to forego those simple pleasures which all hostelites indulge in--like eating out every Saturday.  I became more and more of a recluse.

    On the other hand, Baddy more than nullified the hard-won gains from my parsimony. He had drinking bouts though Madras was a dry state.  There were two ways of getting booze.  One was through someone in the Air Force Station next door to our college.  However, there was always such a demand for booze that

this method was difficult to operate.  Also, the Commanding Officer had issued instructions that the base was off-limits to students from the college.  I guess, he knew us only too well.

    The other way of getting drunk involved more work.  You had to take a bus to Pondicherry, about five hours away.  Baddy would go there with his gang of loafers early on a Saturday.  They would spend the whole day lounging about the beaches and drinking.  Usually, they drank beer which went down more smoothly than hard liquor.  You could also drink relatively large quantities of it.  You got high gradually, pissed a lot, and talked, talked, talked--about God, life, happiness, money, sex, love--the works.

    Then you took the night bus back, with a bottle or two of rum in your bag.  The trick was to use a very cheap bag and to keep it away from you, over someone else's head in the luggage rack. So, if there was a surprise check, they couldn't prove that it was yours.  Sometimes, of course, you got caught red-handed, with

the contraband rum on your person.  Then you simply gave it away to the cop who let you go, no questions asked.

    There were other, more risque escapades that Baddy narrated to me.  But I never knew whether they were based on his own, first-hand experience, if he had made made them up, or if he had heard them from reliable sources.  Mid-way through my college career, for instance, the boys started visiting.  Visiting meant

going to a prostitute, of course.  The cheaper ones were available right outside the college gates after dark.  There was one, Kuluk-Kala, they called her, who gave blow-jobs for five bucks.  Once, when I was returning with a group of guys from the other side of the tracks, she was pointed out to me.  "Let's talk to her," I said.  So Tommy, a tall, good looking Coorgi from Bangalore called her to us.

    "Do you want to make it?" he asked in Tamil.

    "Yes," she said, and began looking down.

    She was barefoot and ragged.  I couldn't see her clearly, but she must have been in her thirties.  She couldn't bathed for days.

    "But I won't pay," said Tommy.

    She nodded, but I don't think she understood.

    "I don't pay for a fuck," Tommy repeated, this time more clearly.

    She looked at him startled and not without a little fright in her eyes.

    "Oh, Sir!  How can you say that?  Do you think we do it for fun?  It's for this sinful belly.  We do it for food."

    "Ok, get lost then," Tommy said with a laugh, losing interest.  He turned to me and said, "Do you want to interview her? You can always walk with her into the park and interview her as much as you like--with your pants down!"

    Everyone laughed.  I joined in too.  But her image would haunt me, "Do you think we do it for fun?  It's for this sinful belly."  There was no way I was going to join the boys on their screwing expeditions; that would require a moral bluntness, a lack of sensitivity I didn't have.

    Baddy shrugged off my remonstrations:  "They've got to eat too.  And we need to have a good fuck.  Where does morality come in?  It's only when people like you, with all your puritanism and high-falutin' rules, come in that everything goes haywire.  You simply don't want to accept that there are these human needs and

they must be accounted for.  So you try to control and regulate, curb and suppress.  That's what leads to a repressed society, to prostitution, to the abduction of women, to rape, and other sexual crimes.  Face it, you want a fuck as bad as anyone else but don't have to guts to get it.  So you go around wagging your fanny, admonishing people like me who are willing to accept responsibility for our fallen selves!"

    After this outburst, I decided to listen to Baddy quietly when he told me of his experiences.

    "She was called Suzannah--don't be carried away by the name, man.  I was--and ended up being one disappointed little sucker. I had thought, `What a sexy name, Suzannah, or sexy Suzie!  Far out!'  I was completely grooved on to the name.  But actually she turned out to be a very old floozy.  Not less than thirty-five,

I'd say.  She's got a couple of kids too, gone bad. There was a drunk about whom we assumed was her husband-cum-pimp. At least he claimed he was the former, but begged us for some money after he'd escorted us to her quarters.  This was a little set of rooms, off Egmore.

    "We went in a group of four.  It was the first time for all of us so we were very nervous.  I tell you, losing your cherry is such a disappointment.

    "Suzie supervised the whole proceedings.  She wore a loose gown which came down to her knees, with no underwear inside.  She insisted that all of us wear condoms.  Nirodh packets were lying neatly stacked on the shelf.  Most of us lost our hard-ons by the time the bloody rubber was on.

    "That hardly bothered her.  Nonchalantly, she lay down on the bed and pulled up her gown.  Jack, you know, wanted to finger her tits, but she said, `No way, you pay extra for that.'  The poor guy agreed.  So she lifts her gown even higher to show two droopy, sagging dugs, dangling on either side of her chest.

    "Once you were on top of her, she handled you a bit till you got hard again.  Then you were in, before you knew it, under her expert guidance, of course.

    "`Ok, you're in now,' she said coolly.  `Get on with it. You've got twenty minutes.'  So you began thrusting away clumsily.  I was giggling all the while which even brought a smile on her face.  Believe me, though, I didn't feel a thing. The whole thing was like friggin' into a bucket.

    "Jack said he couldn't come at all.  After about ten minutes,

she became suspicious.  `Hey, aren't you finished yet?'  She wriggled her butt and in a moment he was out of her.  She looked at the tip of the condom to see if he'd `jacked off'.  Then, reluctantly, she shoved him back inside her.  After another ten minutes, she pushed him away and got up without much ado.  `Ok, buster, you're time's up.'

    "Poor Jackie.  He was as horny as ever.  He shelled out another fifty bucks to get her to frig him off. Ha, ha."

    Baddy fantasized about the perfect whore who gave a little bit of love with sex.  Apparently, there was one such part-time girl, Shanti. She was a nurse from Kerala and liked to go on a date once in a while.  She was very choosy, though, and asked for two hundred bucks for a night.  This was beyond the budget of

most guys.  Yet the stories of Shanti's kindness and special qualities spread.  She was an emotional person and made friends with you. She took on a guy for a full term of four months if he could afford it.  They had lots of fun together.  One of her johns liked her so much that he proposed to her.  Shanti disappeared into the never-never land of repectable matrimony, leaving our whole block of boys heart-broken.

    The really rich guys made out with chicks from the women's colleges, though.  They had cars and lots of money.  They gave expensive gifts to the girls.  Everyone knew what was going on when you saw them zipping down Mount Road in a foursome. Cherian, the tall, good-looking cardamom planter's son was the best known jock of our batch.  Once Baddy saw him outside the women's hostel just before visiting hours closed.  There were a couple of women in half-saris eying him.  "Not your type, eh?" Chandy, Baddy asked.  "Well," he replied with a leer on his face, "these are the hot ones.  Under that demure exterior is a very hungry pussy."

    Baddy looked at the girls with an unspeakable but vain longing.

 
  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape