In today's valueless world, the materialistic pursuit is key goal of life that defines all relationships. The present short story is the depiction of one such person where is protagonist, ever living in the present with a sharp eye on the future, chucks off all wrapping of values and goes for a dream world.
It was unusually cold last December. Bone chilling winds from the north were blowing over the capital. Delhi’s unabating pollution has made it worse. Like a thick blanket, the notorious winter smog stood just over peoples’ heads. I really hated it. Anyway, soon I was going to leave all this behind. Far behind. Along with, I was leaving behind the circle of notoriety, I’d fallen into. But, before that, I’d to come out of the last circle of deception and falsehood.
Bracing through the chilly morning, I reached Central Cottage Emporium, a monolith constructed in red and gray in the heart of the Capital. The huge monster built in these two contrasting colors matched my mood perfectly. The invigorating red of lust and love that lied ahead in my life and the somber gray of pain and agony that I’d caused him. I was force to face this right now, though I’d like to postpone it for a few days. I pushed the gray shade back in my mind locked in my strong head and marched ahead.
There he stood, wearing a deep blue blazer and a pair of ocean blue jeans, waiting for me. His face looked like a dead man’s face. Suddenly, a though crossed my mind. Just 10 days ago, after three rounds of passionate lovemaking, he had remarked, “Darling, I feel dead. I guess you too. We’re all dead.” As I wasn’t, since I was full of energy after purging him thrice, I protested. But, he was adamant, “Not physically. But intellectually and emotionally, we’re all dead as we have become objects. Objects of love and hatred. Objects of being used and using each others. We’re all objects in the world market.”
Well, in a way he was right. He was used thoroughly and thoroughly; to satisfy my insatiable lust and passion. Little wonder, I felt dead too for a moment today. He was the person I was going to spend all my life with, or at least I’d made up my mind to do so. Just 10 days ago. Well, that was the past and I remained a strong believer of living in present. Anyway, in today’s world, there exists no clear-cut boundary between truth and falsehood; between good and evil; between right and wrong. In the valueless world of present, one has been left alone of carry one’s own cross and defend one’s own existence.
He gave me a long look. His cold, dead eyes pierced my body; the body he loved and worshipped. It was my soulless body he actually fell for; just like a machine it needed a regular service. Several times I felt of having not even that, no more body, no more soul. It was just an image, an image projected by the forces of the market, by the choice of desire, by the forces of pure lust. “So, you’re late even today,” he remarked coldly.
However, I knew his weakness’ fairly well and decided to try it out to my advantage. With one touch of affection, his tough veneer vanished. I put my hands on his shoulders and his self control evaporated in a moment. He broke down immediately, “How could you do this to me?” he demanded, “How can you rush to negotiate your marriage with someone else when you couldn’t tolerate me even to look at other women?” I suddenly remember. He had a bad habit of admiring other girls even when he was used to be with me and I simply couldn’t take it. Demanding his 100 percent lobe and attention, I would throw tantrums; howl and cry leaving streaks of kajal on his shirt, trousers and handkerchief. But, today his tone wasn’t bitter; it sounded just like asking questions in a classroom and I was a bit relieved.
That put me back in time. That was rather a sad evening, wrapped in uncertainty and fear. I usually I was lying naked in his marry bet, large enough to accommodate just one person. And, as I was waiting for him to become one, the bed would indeed accommodate just one person. My slim body, long face and big eyes and solid legs all lay in a state of unconditional surrender. Dying rays of the red hot sun filtered through the cloudy glass windows in that solitary room. I knew what to do. Anyway, he preferred lying idle on the bed and that evening to his body, shredded of all his clothes was lying next to mine. I gasped the moment and as usual took the charge in my hands. “Darling, you need to be cleaned before we proceed. How about a tongue bath?” I exclaimed, riding on his top. After than I was the master and he, my humble slave.
That evening is preserved in my mind forever. Thank God, he was responsible and we indulged in alternative, safer method of lovemaking. Those were the most vulnerable moments every woman has to go through for no faults of her own. Simply be being a women, she cannot afford to enjoy unguarded lovemaking on certain days of a month and I hated the very sight and smell of rubber, that bloody artificial sheath. Lovemaking should be pure, skin to skin, without any foreign material coming in between. Even that evening, I was against using it, but when he insisted, “No. darling, neither you nor I can afford it at the moment,” I thought of a way-out. Immediately, my tongue that was already into the action grabbed him totally. He was all inside. I gave him a though tongue massage and came exploding inside my mouth.
Or, it was the next month. During the same period. As I stepped inside his one-room apartment in the downtown Patparganj, I was him watching a CD on him PC. It was one of those forbidden CD. I too joined and what followed was truly explosive.
A woman was lying naked and not one, but two men were loving her. One from the front and the second from the back.
Immediately, I thought of making the rubber useless. We just followed the action and soon I felt as if an engine and entered a tunnel, so tightly packed and it almost torn the tunnel walls apart. Every cell of my rear tunnel oozed and I felt as if they were connected to all my body cells. I never felt so charged up, so energetic, so invigorated.
After the storm was over, I recollected my strength. I was as cool and as calculative as ever and he was far away lost in thoughts. I wanted to have an assurance from him. My life had always been a tough rope walking. Here, I was involved, deep up to my neck with this guy and there was another man, my brother-in-law’s cousin, knocking at the door of my life. Every fortnight he would call me up all the way from Michigan and talk to me for hours. It was really great and just after talking to him, I would land up straight in the arms of my lover.
Carefully, I’d kept our involvement a clandestine affair. My parents, who didn’t have a son, treated him like their own. But, they were not fools. I bet, they’d a fair idea what was going on between us, as I was spending almost the entire day with him. Anyway, as he was always at their help, so they couldn’t raise any objection as they realized they indeed needed him.
And, he’d little control over his emotions, so I always remained apprehensive. Two months before we broke, I decided to persuade him to try a new concoction guaranteeing to enhance the man performance incredibly. A book on herbal medicines mentions the wonderful effects of nutmeg. Crush a little nutmeg into half-boiled egg and honey. Ask your lover to take it an hour before the actual screwing and you can expect all explosions and fireworks. I was busy gossiping with Amm (mother) and App (father), when he came. I handed over him the book, marking the relevant page. That fool, instead of reading it quietly, announced it on top of his voice, “Oh1 nutmeg.” I lost a breadth and to make the matter worse, I saw my mother reading the page subsequently, though she didn’t say anything. On the pretext of going out on a work, we immediately rushed to his home to experience the recipe. God, he was wonderful that evening as was ready to perform even after three rounds.
I really liked him very much, but accepting him as a husband was a little tricky. He was of a great value. But in today’s world symbolic values are more important than the use value of a product. Symbols of power, status and success are the determining factors, even when people buy things. He just lacked a symbolic value. He was neither a Brahmin, nor a very successful person. Obviously, it would have been impossible for my parents to accept him as their mapale (son-in-law) and I too, surely never wanted to struggle for whole of my life to get all comforts in life. Naturally, I wasn’t averse to the idea of marrying my distant relative who was of a great symbolic value also. He was living in America, a land of thousands opportunities and endless possibilities, a land of fast bucks, a land of projecting beautiful images, a land of fine bodies and of consummating culture. A dreamland. The Mecca of market.
On top of that I was the dream girl for him. The image of Indian-hood. A perfect bhartiya naari. Very much like her cousin, my elder sister living in Jaipur. ‘Surely, she must be like her sister, personification of the pure Indian womanhood.
It’s really great. Isn’t it? After living & settling down in America and imbibing all its materialistic benefits, these Indians look for pure Indian womanhood for their life partners. ‘Surely, he must also had a few girlfriends had have had slept with them,’ I thought and then brushed it aside, ‘So what? He is giving me all that I want, so better be quiet and trap him in your net,’ I resolved.
Marrying him would have elevated me from the rotting middle class to an upwardly mobile class with a difference. I hated to join the rat race simply because it smacks of the raw power of money. Here, I’d a chance to enjoy a more enduring power of intellect as well that actually governs the world. My strictly middle class parents were also too keen to see this match getting materialized. My father was out of job and was forced to live on his daughter’s money that had enormously hurt his inflated male ego. Then, after marrying of his three daughters, my parents didn’t have enough recourses to arrange a decent wedding for me. But, I wasn’t in the position to leave my current lover unless my dreams become a reality. And, I carried on with him unless the last moment.
He was aware of the d\fact and could’ve jeopardized my plans simply by letting my past out. He knew fairly well about my previous affairs and about three abortions I’d to face, again for no fault of my own. The first was the beginning when my classmate I was involved me screwed me in his hostel room & I was unaware that he’d deliberately kept the ventilator open. It was a live XXX movie for a horde of his friends. After the event, when I got pregnant & had to go for an abortion, we were asked to see to aborted fetus by the doctor who performed the act. Obviously, so that we could feel ashamed of our act. But, he joked, “Look, darling see minced meet.”
The last one was with him which was induced by using all kinds of herbal concoctions. He was against it and wanted the child, but I wanted my child to be loved by everyone that was impossible if it were born like this. He’d to yield. For four days, after attending the office, I would go to his home and gulp down two preparations—boiled extract of peepul bark and leaves, juice of raw papaya and pineapples and powder of amaltas seeds. I really hated these stuffs. But ultimately, somehow something worked. Halim seeds boiled in milk for 20 minutes proved to be a bitter but effective recioe. And, it was a double edged weapon. It was a potent aphrodisiac. I couldn’t sleep the fateful night at all. In the morning, it was I clear.
Naturally, I got to be careful.
“What’ll you do if I marry him?” I asked him casually. His voice sounded like coming from a deep well, “If you’re happy, I’ll be happy too,” he said. Satisfy I started wondering what’ll happen during the next week and I felt a little nervous. However, I wasn’t worried from the prospect of facing an uncertain future but I was wondering what excitements of the future holds for me. I was leaving tomorrow morning for Jaipur to meet my price charming who was just not quite a nice and brainy guy, but was presently in love with me, even without seeing and meting me.
That night—though for different reasons—neither I, nor he could sleep well. I was a bit worried and a bit flustered over the prospect of meeting my suitor tomorrow and kept my finger crossed. I wondered if I were committing a sin. But, who cares? In this world sin is sure more profitable than virtue anyway. He was really very disturbed because of the fact that his beloved was going to meet her prospective husband. And, when he came to saw me off next morning at Bikaner House, he told me that the whole night the fragrance of love and lovemaking had engulfed him, making it impossible for him to sleep. He really looked sad in that misty morning and I could feel his sad eyes following me all the way to Jaipur.
But once in Jaipur, I was totally in command and knew perfectly well how to deal with my suitor who had a teenage crush on me, all of my life, I’d been dealing with all kinds of guys and knew perfectly well what to do with him who has traveled a long way to meet me. Although, within two days I developed an insatiable craving for him, but carefully I maintained a distance from him. Poor man, he couldn’t even kiss me was thrilled by just holding my hands. Little wonder, my dreams came true. Within four days of meeting him, on Christmas, fireworks and explosions, for a change, alighted my heart. I completely forgot the promise made to my lover that I wouldn’t even go to a movie with this guy. I not only watched movies with him, but also went out to dinner. Holding his hands in a classy restaurant in the pink city, I whispered “yes” in his impatient ears and felt like falling in love for the first time in my life.
“Why did you do that?” he shook me violently and I was back to the everlasting present. Being rootless, born in Jamshedpur to the equally uprooted Tamil Brahmin parents, and having studied in Bangalore, Lusaka and Delhi, past had no value for me. Future too had little meaning for me as I could never achieve whatever I desired. “You aked me take a decision, so I took a decision. Now, you leave me alone to buy something for his parents. This afternoon, I’m flying to Pune with him,” I couldn’t believe myself of being so curt with him and I sounded a little hollow as only the last month, on a clandestine trip, I was in Pune with this guy. Pune is also the home of my would be hubby’s parents. But, I again successfully relegated the past behind. Guesses, that was the best way out.
And, I stormed into the Emporium. In the past, it has served as the most convenient meeting place, not only with him, but with all other guys I was involved with. But today, it was the best place to pick something that would convince my would be in-laws of my sincerety, honesty and purity.
It wasn’t difficult such an object. A fine mural of Meera Bai, the 16th Century saint woman and a highly devotional mystical poet from Rajasthan who became the epitome of Indian culture and tradition was the best object to conceal my stained past. The image also personifies me, simple because I carry the same name. I checked the price. It was Rs. 650, a little too expensive, but I could afford it. Moreover, I wasn’t paying it right now, thanks to the plastic money I carry along with. I quickly bought the object and wore a plastic smile on my face. He was faithfully following me, still hoping to change my mind. What an idiot!
“Buy, see you after four days,” I quipped as I rode into an auto rickshaw. For the first time, I looked behind, in the back view mirror. A thick exhaust of smoke and engulfed him, making him opaque both in reality and in my fading memory.
Perhaps, he was really dead now.