Most of the seniors were gone now, but quite a few remained, like a pain in the ass! But some of our own classmates but studying in different departments were assuming the role the seniors, forgetting quite easily what rigmarole they’d undergone when they were juniors. Some of them had developed intimacy with the local lads who were scum of the college going students. They would beat an unsuspecting and innocent boy just for the heck of it. A boy was beaten up on the campus just because these so called leaders could not tolerate his mannerism of twirling his moustache. Another boy was beaten by accusing him of staring at one of the members of the gang. There were now at least three gangs excluding ours, which was not violent at all.
I would never have thought of our group as a gang back then, least of all a violent gang. Our group was a defense mechanism, which neither I nor any other member of the group would have thought as such. It was a group of friends, and persons like Mohan and Bhaskar, being on friendly terms with many bad characters, could just use the right amount of noise and threats to keep others at bay. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have enjoyed the security and respected that our group commanded. It wasn’t notorious too, for a couple of boys like me in the group were academically successful too.
However, we did have a fatal attraction towards some bad things. Once late in the evening, after we had a few more drinks than what we normally would have, we missed the last bus. There were six of us, and we didn’t regret missing the bus. I was thinking that we could take an autorikshaw, but Mohan suggested that we could have another couple of drinks and walk back all the way to the campus. All welcomed this and I had to remain mute.
As we approached a hotel opposite the bus station, we saw a couple of women standing behind the grilled divider and staring at us. All of us looked at them, but Mohan stared at them hard. One of the women, who was hardly five feet tall but an enormous bust, smiled at him. As we walked past them, Pavan said, “Boy! They are waiting for the customers”.
“How’d you know?” I asked him.
“I know them by sight, by instinct,” he replied somewhat proudly.
“They might have missed their bus like us or they may be waiting for someone,” I said.
Now Bhaskar intervened, “It is not the case Harsha. Did you see the basket they were holding?”
I turned back and saw that each of the two women held a basket, not a vanity bag.
“Yes, what of that?” I asked him.
“It is the trade mark. They are from rural areas. They come with a basket so that people in their villages might think they were going to the city for shopping. After the business, they do shop here,” Bhaskar replied with a wink.
Now Mohan halted abruptly, turned back and began eyeing the short woman. She was still smiling at him invitingly. Mohan decided something and said, “I am going boys. Anybody interested in joining?”
Bhaskar objected, “No brother, they do not look clean. It is not safe. Please don’t even think of it”.
“Don’t worry. I will just talk to her and come back,” saying thus he walked towards the woman.
“Mohan, do come back. Don’t do anything rash,” I too warned him. He didn’t even look back. Although he was walking straight, I knew that he was stiff.
We watched him approach the short woman and stand by her side. Although he was of average height, he seemed to tower her. We watched her making some gestures while talking to Mohan, suggesting the hotel behind her. “He won’t come back!” Pavan said for the first time.
Suddenly the woman walked towards the grilled narrow entrance of the cheap and filthy hotel located on the first floor and Mohan promptly followed her. Soon, before we could even shout to him, both of them climbed the stairs and disappeared. “Oh shit,” Bhaskar cursed while Pavan looked at us as if saying, “Didn’t I say so?” I was too astonished to say anything. Vijay too looked bewildered.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” Pavan said and started going away. All of thought he was going to pick up the remaining woman. But he walked to the counter of a liquor shop, bought a quarter of whisky and poured it into a half emptied bottle of water and came back. “While we are waiting, we may as well have some sips,” he said, handing me the bottle and lit a cigarette.
I took a large gulp from the bottle and coughed because it was too strong for me. Bhaskar immediately took the bottle from me and began sipping. After a while Pavan took the bottle and handed the half smoked cigarette to Bhaskar. Barely after twenty minutes of climbing the stairs, we saw Mohan descending them. His shirt was no longer tucked into his pants. He walked very fast to join us.
“Why did you do it brother?” Bhaskar erupted in anger.
“Hey, come on, I just couldn’t resist the urge brother,” he replied calmly and lit a cigarette.
“How was she Mohan? Cooperative?” Pavan asked without any curiosity. He seemed to have that experience. He might have had some derision in his tone, which I couldn’t grasp at that time.
Mohan saw the bottle in Pavan’s hands and he almost snatched it saying, “I need a booster now.” He took a couple of sips before going back to the question that was asked of him.
“It was ok brother. But damn those women, they are too businesslike. Act as if they have absolutely no time. She didn’t even care to remove her clothes. To remove each piece of cloth on her body, she demanded a price that I couldn’t afford to pay. Then she straightaway lied on her back, lifting the sari and spreading her legs. It was over in a matter of moments.” Mohan replied glumly.
“That’s why we tried to dissuade you brother,” Pavan said.
“That and the safety reasons,” Bhaskar said which might have been regarding police raids, I thought till he added, “It is not healthy.”
“Come on boys. Nothing will happen. Forget it. Whatever it was, I needed it. I got it,” Mohan said in a conclusive tone.
“You could have always resorted to Nirupama man,” Vijay rejoined.
“What do you understand about these things mama? Men like different varieties,” Mohan said looking mockingly at Vijay.
We walked nearly six kilometers to reach our hostel close to midnight.
After three days, Mohan came to my room and said, “Harsha, I need to talk to you.”
I was alone in the room and I could guess what he was going to say. “Problem Mohan?”
To my shock he closed the door, bolted it and lifted his lungi to reveal his private part. There were boils on the tip as well as the shaft. “This, and I am having burning sensation while peeing,” He said.
“Didn’t you use any protection that day?” I enquired to which he nodded in negative.
“Well, let’s go a doctor. This can’t be ignored.”
“Right now!” I was glad that he had chosen me to confide in rather than Bhaskar. I was glad to help him.
We went to a private hospital, waited for a couple of hours before the doctor called us in. After examining him, the doctor wrote a prescription and sternly advised Mohan, “I hope you have learnt your lesson. You’ve been very wise to come to me immediately. It could have been worse. Never do it again, if you must, ask your parents to marry you!”
Mohan was very grateful to me that I’d taken him to the hospital in such a hurry. I told him reading from what the doctor had scribbled on the case paper, that he’d contacted urethritis, although I didn’t know what the hell it meant.
In a couple of days, Mohan said, the boils had disappeared and the painful urination had ceased. I had read a lot of these things in the meanwhile and I told him what the doctor hadn’t, “If you must, use a condom!” though I knew it was not hundred percent safe.
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