When I heard Badri's voice on the line, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The process was about to begin again. I knew he'd invite me out. I also knew that I didn't feel like going anywhere with him at all. I preferred to spend my Sunday alone.
"Yes, Badri, good morning. Did you sleep well?"
"Ah, Sir, why worry about me? Tusi sunao," he broke into Punjabi, "Badhshao, asi twadi khidmat ke waste hazir hain--asi twade tabedar hain." I am here for rendering service to you.
How polite he was. I wondered what would come next.
"I know you're tired, Sir, so I won't ask you for any of your time today."
"Ha, ha. You can see through me, can't you, Sir? Well, what I was going to say was.... You know, bhabiji is not here. You need to eat. So..."
"Ok. See you in an hour. And yes, before I forget..."
"Well, don't bring the Mercedes. This is a middle-class neighbourhood."
"Of course, of course, Shahji. I brought it along yesterday only to honour you. Ha, ha. Today, it'll be something else. Remember, I am here to serve you, to make you happy."
When I put the phone down I realized what was wrong: his words were more applicable to me than to him--I was the one who would end up rendering all the service to him.
Badri showed up in a cream coloured Contessa Classic. Another big car. As I got in, I made a face. Badri burst out laughing. "Sir, you are too austere. Loosen up a bit. Enjoy life. You only live once."
We went to a place of my choice. This was Minerva Coffee House, a very fine, reasonably priced vegetarian restaurant. We had a thali lunch which was served to us on a plantain leaf, piping hot. There was sambar, rasam, pacchadi, pickles, papads, and of course, puris, vegetables, and two kinds of rice. For desert we had ras-malai.
We got over the eating part quickly so that we could proceed with Badri's story. I braced myself: "So, what happened when your Mamaji came home suddenly?"
Badri picked up the thread easily. "He was stunned to see us like that, clutching each other. He gaped at us as if he were a frozen image on the video screen after someone had pressed the pause button suddenly.
"Meeno was quick to recover. She grabbed her salwar, stood up, and ran inside holding it--all in one motion.
"As I told you, her back was to the door and her kameez came all the was down to floor. So it wasn't easy to see that she was bottomless, so to speak.
"Her body, in front of mine, was the only cover I had. When she got up and left, I was totally exposed. I was naked, waist down. And wet. There was cum on the floor. There was absolutely nothing I could do to defend myself. I had been caught, literally, with my pants down. I never felt so vulnerable in my life. The last vestiges of my self-respect and dignity were destroyed. I prepared myself for the worst thrashing in my life.
"That didn't take too long to follow. When my uncle recovered, he fell upon me with a rage, cursing and pummelling me.
"`Namak haram, behen chod, madher chod," he yelled as he kicked, "shitting in the same plate that you eat? I'll cut off your balls, you sister-fucker.'
"Apparently, the neighbours heard the screams. By the time they arrived, I had passed out. I was bleeding from my mouth. There were welts and bruises on my legs, buttocks, and back. I had covered my genitals with my hands. When I came to, I put my pyjamas on, and braced myself to face an inquisition. My Mamiji
had also come back home by then.
"Meeno was summoned. This was when the nightmare really began. Though I was prepared to assume responsibility for what had happened, never involving Meeno, I wasn't prepared for her total denial.
"Her face became ugly, contorted with hate, lies, and spite. She joined everyone else in accusing me of untold crimes. My aunt sobbed. The neighbours chimed in with their corroborations and curses. From sister-fucker, I became a liar, thief, murderer, an all-purpose monster.
"These were the same people who pitied me for being an orphan, called me "beta," and sang my praises when I did well in school. I knew all their secrets. One man was sleeping with his wife's sister. His son had told me how he heard them every night and how his mother sobbed outside, pretending to sleep. Sometimes he fucked both the sisters, one after the other. Another neighbour was a drunkard who had sold his wife's mangalsutra. Another one had sold his daughter in marriage to a senior officer's crippled son for ten thousand rupees, and a promotion.
"The principal accusers were, of course, my uncle and Meeno. The latter accused me of trying to rape her. She cried and made a lot of noise. Nobody questioned her story, though my Uncle had seen that far from struggling, she was actually quite happy in my embrace. Soon enough, my parents were being dragged in. My mother was called a whore. Referring to her harrowing experience during the partition, my Uncle said, `She thrust her pussy at all those half-peeled Mussalman lunds.'
"When I heard my mother abused, I lost control. Almost hysterical, I screamed back, `You who claim to have been so generous to me--what have you given me? You took all my parent's property and money. My father had got you this job. Since their death, you have never fed me properly one single day. I have never complained. I never wanted to do any of those things with Meeno Didi. Ask her. And you, Mamaji? What about you? How you have abused me yourself! God knows. Am I to spell it out in black and white? Then listen. This man has been buggering me for the last three years. He has done it over and over again. I
was sore and bleeding, but he didn't relent. I cried, begged, pleaded, but I wasn't spared. Now tell me. What do you have to say?'"
"Well, did that work?" I asked.
"You know it never does. Of course, I couldn't continue to live there any more. I was a continuous affront to them."
The sun and set by the time Badri finished his narration. I had been through three nimbu-panis. He had had an equal number of beers. We went to the Men's before we left. There, side by side, we shared a silent comraderie as we emptied our bladders.
|Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape|