When I turned around I found that Vani had disappeared into the bathroom. My heart was still pounding. What was I going to do? How would I touch Vani knowing fully well that I had never even given as much a hint as to suggest I was in love with her? Of course, I was not in love with her and I was sure I would never be, for she was nowhere near the girl that I’d dreamt of. To put it in simple words, as they say these days, she was not my type. Was Nirupama my type? It was an embarrassing question even though I questioned myself. Frankly speaking, she too was not. She could have been, had I ignored her dusky complexion, her somewhat low IQ, her reputation or disrepute and infamy, her general lack of interest in the things intellectual, and things I didn’t myself know how to put in words, but I could never have ignored the fact that she’d chosen Mohan over me in the first place and she’d already lost her virginity to Mohan, if not to someone earlier than him. Then why did I crave to bed her? Was it my way of avenging her for preferring Mohan to me? Why did I see red, although I never expressed it? Undoubtedly it was my ego, or was it envy plain and simple?
Why didn’t Mohan say anything about swapping that he himself proposed and seemed to be dying to do? Had he forgotten? Of course he might not have forgotten. In fact he was more eager to conquer Vani than I was to make love to Nirupama. Perhaps, he was in a hurry. He was certain to turn up later and ask me to go the other room. With these thoughts clouding my mind, I decided to have another drink, forgetting that I had already had one too many. I mixed very little water to a generous peg of liquor so that I could drink it in one gulp before Vani appeared. Just as I was placing the glass back on the teapoy, the bathroom door opened and Vani saw it.
“You are still drinking?” she asked unentangling her long braid with raising both her arms above to reach her mane. I noticed that she was wearing a pink nightgown that had sequins around her neck. I was amazed to see that she really had a mountainous bosom, which either somehow had escaped my attention or discovery or wasn’t noticeable when she wore sari, which she almost everyday did. The pace of my heartbeats quickened rapidly at the voluptuous sight.
“I am damn tired,” I replied lamely. Her laughter suggested she hardly believed me.
She climbed the bed, fluttered the pillow and lied down feigning a yawn. “Me too,” she said and turned sideways, facing the bed lamp. I switched off the lights but the bed lamp was still on. I hadn’t brought any nightdress. Therefore I wrapped a towel around my trunk and removed my pants and shirt. She could hear me changing, but she didn’t budge. She was pretending as if she had slipped into sleep. There was only one bed in the room and sharing it with her was inevitable. But my nerves were failing me. I was cursing Mohan in my own mind for putting me under such a circumstance although I was equally to be blamed, but at the same time deep down in my heart there was a desire, a hunger, an enticement and a temptation that was utterly irresistible. I knew I had to take courage with my both hands in order to approach her but my conscience was putting all sorts of hurdles. Would she agree? If she agreed, won’t she force me to marry her? Ah, she’d to force Bhaskar first, I tried to assure myself. What if all that Bhaskar told about the night preceding Virupakshappa’s marriage were all bloody lies? After all Bhaskar was known for his mastery over the art of concocting all sorts of lies in order to either entertain the listeners, or to serve his own ends. What if the second wicket, after all had not fallen contrary to the observation I had made in a moment of envy coupled with wrath? What if my parents were to know about this? The very thought of my parents finding this out sent a wave of panic in my mind. I would die of shame if such a thing were to happen. What if the police raided the lodge and dragged us to the police station and then informed our parents? The very thought caused my thighs to shudder.
Vani stirred, pulled her legs closer to her chest and thereby revealed her equally voluptuous posterior. My courage of convictions was melting away. God, help me! I cried silently. A thought came to my mind that I could spend the whole night dozing off on the chair. But what would I tell my friends? All my false claims of having conquered innumerable girls would be exposed and my reputation will suffer a severe dent. Why, I could picture right then how my friends would be mocking and teasing me! I could tell the same things as Bhaskar had done and it would be my words against Vani’s. Surely none would be asking Vani about anything that might have happened this night. However where would it leave me? Vani could still compel me to marry her!
I poured another small drink for me and having mixed equal measure of water, drank it bottoms up. It is said that drink gives you all the valour in the world. But it wasn’t helping me at all. It is even said an aroused person has neither fear nor shame. Even that was not happening with me. I decided to take all my thoughts to the bed, and if possible, shrug them off along with the rest of my clothes!
I climbed the bed and lied on my shoulder facing Vani. She still didn’t stir. Was she acting as though she didn’t know what was coming? Was she not interested at all? I lay for a few minutes silently. Then slowly rose with my weight resting on my elbow to see her face. Her eyes were closed. I crept closer to her pressing my whole body against her and encircled her front with my arm. She gave a start and jerked me off, then turned towards me.
“What do you think you are doing?” she asked. I knew for sure that there was no anger in her voice.
“You surely can’t be that naïve not to understand what I am doing,” I replied with feigned peevishness. She simply stared at me with false anger that I could easily recognize. I again moved closer to her and tried to clasp her. She shoved me again. I persisted and this time I grabbed her bosom and she jerked off my hand and said, “Why are you flirting with me?”
Remember we were speaking in Kannada and the use of English word ‘flirt’ sounded funny too me. Suppressing my amusement I said, “Yes, Why not if Bhaskar can?”
“What do you mean by ‘if Bhaskar can?’” she sat upright and looked into my eyes.
“Come on Vani. He’s described picturesquely what happened on that night in Raichur!”
“What happened? It is all nonsense”
“I don’t know if it was nonsense, but something did happen. Didn’t it?”
“Harsha, tell me what Bhaskar has been telling others, please”
I told her how Bhaskar had described his conquest of Vani, though not as graphically as he was able to do. It was only after telling her that I realized it was wrong to tell anybody what Bhaskar had told us in confidence. Apart from being morally wrong, it could drive a wedge between Bhaskar and me. At that point of time, however, I just wanted her and would not mind using Bhaskar’s story as a weapon to subdue her; at least I thought it was a weapon.
“It is all bloody lies Harsha, what happened was nothing like this,” she said after pondering silently for a while, “You know, Nirupama and I were sharing one room and Bhaskar and Mohan were sharing another. We four were the first to reach Raichur and the person who was to receive us at the lodge gave us only two rooms, thinking that the girls would stay in one room and the boys in another. Obviously, Virupakshappa was not sure that you and Vijay would be coming to attend his marriage. In case you didn’t turn up, he would be spending unnecessarily for the rooms that would remain unoccupied. Vijay reached there after 10.45 and was therefore given another room, which he would be sharing with any other guest turning later.
“Bhaskar did come to my room because Nirupama requested to be left alone with Mohan. In fact she went to Mohan’s room and sent Bhaskar to wait in my room. You know, he is a distant relative of mine, so he couldn’t make any wrong move. I’d told Nirupama that I would wait only for an hour after which I would throw Bhaskar out of my room. Bhaskar was drunk and did approach me, but I sternly told him to behave himself. After that he sat there smoking and reading a stale newspaper, and also having a friendly chat with me, mostly making fun of Nirupama and Mohan. When Nirupama returned, he went back to stay with Mohan. That’s all,” Nirupama gazed into my eyes trying find out if I believed her version. I neither wanted to believe what she said nor did I want to find any holes in her story.
“Alright!” I said again letting my hand move over her bosom and getting encouraged that she was not resisting now, “However, neither you are waiting for Nirupama to return after an hour tonight, nor can you throw me out of the room.”
“Are you my lover?” Vani had an edge in her tone.
“Are they lovers?” I asked referring to Mohan and Nirupama.
“Yes. They are,” she replied with conviction.
“Don’t be too sure. This is India. Here, the lovers are supposed to marry. And I am sure Mohan is not going to marry her,” my tone too was edgy now.
“What? Nirupama is in love with him and she’s sure as hell he’ll marry her”
“Is she? Has he ever asked her to marry him?”
“He will. In course of time.”
“If he won’t?”
Vani didn’t reply but sat still thinking about the possibility. But I had already started enjoying myself. When I hugged her, for the first time I found that she was wearing virtually nothing below her gown. She was still thinking when I drew her face near mine and kissed her on lips. She closed her eyes and began kissing me back.
The rendering of a raga in Hindustani classical music always starts with aalap, which is a gradual unfolding, and development of a raga through monosyllables and without a fixed composition. The artist can expand it as much as he likes. It is followed by a singing of a khayal in vilambit tal, which is a lyrical composition of usually two stanzas, very slow in tempo. Then it shifts to madhyam tal, the medium fast tempo and ends with a presentation of a cheez in dhrut, the fast tempo. The whole rendering will be adorned with sargam, laykari, taan and other decorations. The whole performance becomes a manifestation of bliss and beauty. But even a microtone of discordant note spoils the whole performance. All my knowledge of lovemaking had come from unreliable sources such as porn literature and blue films. I had been worked up so much already that there was hardly any place for aalap and vilambit laya. Even the drut couldn’t be carried out, to my dismay, because of a discordant thing that occurred. I was put off because of an unfamiliar unpleasant odour that was emanating from unknown source that affected me so deeply that I was spent well before even touching the destination. About half an hour later, my second expedition also ended up as a disaster, all because of what had become in my view, an all-pervasive stench. The thrill had evaporated and was replaced by angst, despair, exasperation and fear. I had the least inkling of what was to come as an aftermath soon, not in the distant future.
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