It was a very simple ceremony, the marriage of Virupakshappa. The bride was just about eighteen with a childlike face. Virupakshappa was very happy, though he looked embarrassed to face us. He wanted to wait till he lands a good job before getting married, but he had to bow to the pressure that was brought to bear on him by his mother.
It was a small village temple where the marriage took place, and attended by a decent crowd of not more than a couple of hundreds of people, mostly relatives and a small number of friends and acquaintances. Naturally, Mohan took the lead in getting the bridegroom ready, making several suggestions. Nirupama and Vani, surprisingly, didn’t mix with the women folk and stuck to our groups. Several brows were raised, for it was very unconventional to find unmarried girls in the company of boys, the village being very conservative in its outlook. There were whispers, and giggles. Some village elders stared at us with disapproval. The fact that the girls had stayed in a hotel had already traveled to the village and it was a no-no thing in a village. It would’ve been proper for the girls to stay in a house, under the supervision and watchful gaze of the elders. Much later, when Virupakshappa returned to the hostel for the final year, he confided in me that he too had to face a lot of unpleasant and embarrassing questions from the old folk. Right there, I could hear some people muttering with a sigh of resignation, “The times have indeed changed!”
After partaking feast with the hosts, and to the relief of Virupakshappa, we left for Mantralaya in a state transport bus. It was one of the worst roads I had ever seen; full of potholes and at some places the road itself disappeared. Since I was sitting in the last row at the back, I was, every now and then thrown up in the air, reminding me of Walt Disney cartoon movies. I never in fact was seated, but was constantly in the air, the seat touching my bum every now and then!
At Mantralaya, popularized by a Kannada movie in Karnataka, I saw that the summer had really hit hard. The river Tunga was looked like a small stream with muddy waters. Though it is considered that bathing in the waters of Tunga is equal to taking a dip in the holy river Ganga, none of us could think of bathing there. I being an apostate, hardly could bring myself to even touching the water there. The temple or the Rayara Matha was crowded. There wasn’t any architectural beauty in the old building. The priests asked us to remove the shirts, and I jokingly asked them if I had to remove my pants also. I spoke in Kannada thinking nobody would understand, but the priest glared at me. An old man who was standing behind me in the queue said, “Everyone understands Kannada here!”
Later at four in the afternoon, we caught a bus to Ranebennur. It was a circuitous route for me to reach Belgaum, but all my friends insisted that I should go with them, stay at Ranebennur overnight and continue my journey the next day, to which I agreed because I won’t be alone for at least half of my journey.
My legs had stiffened and body was aching when we alighted at Ranebennur, late in the evening, a while after ten. The girls took an autorikshaw and said good night to us. I didn’t care to ask where they went, for by now I had come to regard them as irritants since they grabbed most of the attention of the group. Above all, in them I could see my own failure that I dreaded most.
Ranebennur, though a small town, was and still is a vibrant town. It is a business center with a very large floating population. It had only a couple of hotels during those days where one could put up. We booked ourselves two rooms in a hotel, which had a bar nearby. I badly needed a drink, so did Mohan and Bhaskar. Compelled by us not to leave for his village, Vijay needed food equally badly. We decided to order drinks and food in our rooms.
“Tell me, wasn’t there any resistance from her?” Mohan asked after finishing his first drink. It was like a prompt to Bhaskar, who, as if waiting for it since the girls left, lighted a cigarette and began.
“There was really stiff resistance,” Even if Vani herself had invited him to the bed, he wouldn’t say so, thought I. “I knew that she was not going to allow me do anything to her. That is why I had chalked our a plan well before I went into her room.”
He would never come to the point straightaway. He would always have an elaborate introductory part in his narration. And the right type of dramatics to deliver it!
“I entered her room and closed the door behind me. She was wearing a nightgown and was sitting on the bed, pretending to be reading a book that she had brought. I pulled a chair near her bed and sat. She looked up and asked if I wasn’t sleepy. ‘I can’t sleep tonight. How can I when Mohan is locked up with Nirupama in that room?’ I asked her. ‘Is it any of your business?’ she asked me. ‘Of course it is none of my business. But it bothers me’ I told her. She sat silently for a while, and then asked, ‘Why does it bother you? Are you concerned about Nirupama or Mohan?’ she kept the book by the side of the pillow.” Bhaskar took a big sip from his glass.
“’Neither,’ I said, ‘I am concerned about me’ and took the book from her bed and asked, ‘What are you reading?’ She snatched it from me and said it is a book meant for girls. I said, ‘If you’d asked me, I’d have brought books meant to be read together by you and me!’ She blushed and I felt encouraged and took her hand. But she withdrew and said, ‘Don’t touch me. I am not like Nirupama okay?’”
Bhaskar paused to empty and refill his glass. Taking the opportunity, I said, “She must be just putting up an act buddy.”
“I don’t think so,” Bhaskar said quickly, for accepting my statement would take away the importance of his act. “I again took her hand and this time held it firmly and said, ‘Don’t be silly. What is wrong in being like her? Aren’t they enjoying?’ She angrily replied, ‘ I don’t want such enjoyment. Please go to Vijay’s room.’ I said, ‘Okay, okay, calm down. I will sit here for a while and then go.’ And sat there silently for a full five minutes.”
“So you sat there silently and then slept there on the floor?” Vijay asked mockingly, using the pause Bhaskar took to drink.
“Mama, why do you think I asked her to permit me to sit there for five minutes? It requires gray cells in your brain. After five minutes, I told her, ‘Vani, I have been in your room for more than 15 minutes now. I will walk out, but who would believe that I did nothing to you? Even I may tell all the people that we made love and that would suffice,” Bhaskar gave a wide victorious smile.
“Oh ho!” Vijay nodded with amazement.
“After that everything was simple. I climbed on the cot and kissed her, she closed her eyes and began to enjoy,” Bhaskar closed his eyes as if reliving the experience.
“Was she a virgin?” Mohan asked.
“Yes, I am sure she was. She cried out so loudly with every stroke that I had to shut her mouth…” Bhaskar said, “Just as we watch in a BF.”
“Right then, the second wicket has fallen!” was all I could manage to mutter.
Virupakshappa’s wedding was no surprise, but Bhaskar’s campaign certainly was!