It was not that I was completely innocent of my own body before the wet dream in which Baddy so vividly and dramatically announced his presence. But, I admit, that before Baddy my brushes with the world of sex were rather of the funny, awkward or gross kind.
Like discovering a strange object outside the trash can in the neighbour's compound. There it lay, all coiled up, its sad and oozy nipple squashed sideways, looking like a discarded part of a surgeon's transparent gloves but full of curdled cream. I poked it with a stick, turned it about just to see if it was alive, and, finally, asked Mohit, the neighbour's son, what it was. He screwed up his face and said, "God knows. But I find one of these in our trash can every morning."
I must have been only seven or eight then. As I grew up, I came across other instances of how adults did it. At night, for instance, I would be awakened by a peculiar routine which I never could figure out. First I would hear some muffled noises in my parents' room. Then the bed would creak. This would go on for
about ten minutes or so. Then a light would come on in their bathroom. My father always washed very noisily. This is when I woke up. Then I would hear my mother go in. She would mutter to herself because my dad had already pulled the flush. Then, after a few minutes it would be all quiet.
Sometimes, I would ask them about this routine, "Mummy, what do you and daddy do in the bathroom at night?" She would stare at me sternly, blushing slightly, but smiling with the corners of her mouth, "What do you think we do?"
"Well, you must be doing su-su."
"That's right. If you know, why do you ask?"
But what was quite off-putting was what went on in school. The big boys, Fardeen and Yahya, who spent about two years in each form, were already fourteen and fifteen by the time they reached the eighth. They would sit in the last rows, with dirty magazines, laughing and grunting when the teacher's back
was turned. Everyone knew what they were up to.
Once, some boarders--always wiser and more experienced in these matters--called me to the toilet after school. In a locked cubicle we heard gasps and grunts. Three boys stood on tiptoe. Then one climbed on the back of the other. There was an embarrassed silence, followed by an explosion. "You filthy buggers. You can't even let a guy frig in peace." There was a click. The door opened and we saw Fardeen with his erect, circumcised cock in his hands, his pants down to his knees. "Now tell me, you bastards, which of you wants to be fucked first."
We ran, howling, to save our lives. There was something so gross about this scene that I kept thinking about it for days. Later, I asked those same boarders, "Tell me, is that how it looks? I mean mine always has this skin sticking to it, like a banana peel."
They laughed, "You poor jackass, you haven't even seen your cock yet. You have to roll back your foreskin. Then you see the head which gives them so much joy. Understand?"
There was, of course, a lot of casual homosexuality in school, most of which I missed as a day scholar. But when we played kabbadi or when there was a fight, one sure way of breaking up the two boys locked in each other's arms was to shout, "Homo, homo!" None of us quite knew what it was about, but it always worked. There would be embarrassed looks as the contestants disengaged hastily.
Then who hasn't had the compulsory crush on one's teacher? Mrs. De Souza was the one that all the boys salivated over. She was our class mistress in the ninth. She wore saris with a low cut blouse. The bolder ones would look for some excuse to call her to their desks. "Miss, miss, I need some help with this sum," they would say. Mrs. De Souza would dutifully bend over their notebooks trying to straighten out the problem. "There, you duffer, it's so simple. You haven't added the fraction to the right. That's all." The boy would look at her bosom with painful ecstasy and gasp, "Oh Ma'am! Thank you, Ma'am!"
Miss Cynthia Johnson, though, was the best-looking of all our teachers, though she only taught primary school. She must have been only twenty-one or twenty-two when she joined us. "I am much older than all of you think," she never tired of telling us seniors. Actually, she looked not a year beyond eighteen. And
we were then in the Tenth, fifteen going on sixteen.
Miss Johnson was an Anglo-Indian, one of those white ones, who were getting rarer and rarer after massive emigrations to Australia, England, and Canada. She was blonde, green-eyed, and wore skirts. She rode to school on her bicycle. We would wait for her at the circle, hoping that the wind would blow her skirt
and we might glimpse her legs. Despite our fervent, collective prayers, this rarely happened. We never stopped hoping and praying, though. To see her pink panties would be nothing short of glimpsing heaven itself. Whenever that happened, about once or twice a year, the occasion was no less weighty and momentous than Chrismas or Independence Day.
Most of her family had already gone away to Australia and Miss Johnson too was planning to go. In fact, she was engaged to another Anglo-Indian, who was already in Dingo-land. We were heart-broken when we heard the news. Fazalullah Khan was the most affected of us all. He didn't come to school for weeks
until the Principal wrote to his father, reporting his prolonged French leave. When he came back, he was, literally, a changed man: he had a scruffy beard, which after some weeks of indulgence, he was ordered to shave off.
When I was in the ninth an English boy, Jerry Collier, joined us for a year as a boarder. His father was a missionary, come to India on a Sabbatical. He looked so much like a girl. His skin was white and smooth. He had straight hair, sleek and blond, and a gentle smile. He spoke with a slight lisp and his English, so native and pure, was delightful to hear.
In one of our Moral Science classes, I sat next to Jerry and got to know him a bit. I thought he would be rude and haughty, being the only white boy in our class. Instead, I found him amazingly open and modest. Indeed, he said he had been looking forward to meeting me, the boy who always stood first in class. I was deeply moved. Later, quite shyly, I held his hand, moving my fingers over his arms.
"You too?" he asked with mild remonstrance.
"You're so beautiful that I can't help it. But what do you mean by `you too'?"
"Well, ever since I've joined this school, the boys are always trying to get me into their beds."
"I am sorry. How do you manage?"
"I come from a very liberal background. But I have set my limits. I let people hold my hand. Sometimes, I let them kiss me too. But not on my lips. Only on my cheeks."
"Will you let me kiss you?" I asked, "on your cheek, of course?"
Jerry smiled at me. He offered his cheek to me. I kissed it solemnly. I held his hand and said, "Thank you. I shall never forget you." I touched his hair, soft as velvet. I felt I had kissed Cinderella.
It was after this that Baddy so audaciously and vividly visited me, with all the mystery, danger, excitement, passion, longing, and fulfilment that was lacking in my earlier painfully awkward encounters with human sexuality.