From a work in progress)
By Shevlin Sebastian
When I see her for the first time in the large hall of the National Library in Calcutta, my heart thuds against my rib cage. She is wearing a pink chiffon saree worn very low around the waist exposing her smooth creamy midriff and bellybutton. She flips through the cards in the catalogue while I am standing a few feet away.
It is a Sunday morning in December. I look around. There are two long rows of drawers placed in a parallel line right down the hall. Near the entrance, two middle-aged men and a girl, with black spectacles, stare, with single-minded concentration, at the cards. Usually, girls with slouching postures and pale skin come to the library but now here is one right next to me who is so sexually alluring…should I approach her? Suppose she rebuffs me? But I have nothing to lose. I have no girlfriend and in college, I am the butt of jokes. “Ajit’s favourite album is ‘Like a Virgin’,” my classmates say. “It reminds him of himself.”
College begins at six in the morning and ends at 10 A.M. When I return home, my parents are already at work, my father as a manager and my mother as a schoolteacher, and I have the whole day in front of me.
Instead of trying to get a job, I want a blowjob. But I have been unable to fix anybody. The few times I have approached girls, at bus stops, in the New Market, in the college canteen and near cinema halls, I have been rebuffed. I don’t blame them. I wear spectacles, I am short and thin and dressed in faded jeans and sandals. Which chick, in her right mind, would want to get friendly with me? So I lock the bedroom door, because the servant is in the kitchen, and watch blue films on the computer and masturbate into my hand. When I am not watching, I read ‘Letters to Penthouse’ or ‘Venus in India’ or fantasise (group sex, orgies, threesomes, one on one) and feel increasingly frustrated.
I do not know what it is to touch a girl, to knead the breasts, suck the nipples, lick the shaved armpits, and put my cock in the wet centre of the earth and the home of man…the cunt, I mean. When would I experience all this? How long can I wait? God, what are You doing up there? Look at your watch. Time is running out. And there are madmen like Saddam Hussein running around. He’s had his fill of screwing other men’s wives (and occasionally shooting dead the husbands) and now he would like to burst an atomic bomb and become a pan-Arabia emperor.
But what about me? I could die a virgin, my cock and myself blown to bits before I could do anything to rectify this horrible situation. I can imagine St. Peter, with his long white beard, (Am I confusing him with Santa Claus?), his arm around Mary Magdalene (once a whore, always a whore and I know I will be excommunicated for saying this) at Pearly Gates telling me: “Ajit, God gave you a toy to share happiness all around. And all you did was to play with it yourself. Is this right? Should I allow you to come to heaven? You were supposed to go to heaven with that toy.”
Did I want this pussy? Yes! Did I want to press my nose against the hairy black bush (I assume she is not shaved, like the chicks in the blue films) and inhale the perfumes of Hindusthan. Yes, my mind screams again. Then approach her, fucker. She has to know that you want her. It’s better to try than to not try. St. Peter will surely appreciate my initiative although he might still send me to hell.
The other alternative is to go to a whore in Sonagachi but in this age of AIDS—fucking asshole killer disease. Can’t make a move nowadays without some threat or the other looming over your head like a black monsoon cloud. I want to go to Kashmir for a holiday but will the Pakis allow it? Instead of trying to screw their beautiful women, they are busy trying to blow up Kashmir. Get a blowjob, guys!
“Excuse me,” I say and pause. She looks at me. Black pupils, brown eyes, cool, unblinking, interrogatory but with a half smile on her lips.
“Yes?” she says in a husky voice. It is like placing cold cucumber on burning eyes made weary by staring constantly at computer screens. ‘Can I lick you from top to bottom,’ I think and say, “I…want…I mean…I should.” I choke.
“I can’t understand what you are trying to say,” she says.
“It’s English with an Indian/Mallu accent,” I manage to blurt out and smile goofily.
For a moment, she frowns. Then she smiles and looks around. The others have not noticed anything--bookworms and torrid sex: surely, there cannot be a link there. I am happy she finds me funny. Rule from a sex self-help book I read some time ago: if you can make a female laugh, she’ll part her legs sooner than later. How soon is not said. ‘No laughs,’ I think. ‘but I should be getting somewhere with this smile.’
“That’s funny,” she says. “What’s your name?”
“Ajit Verghese,” I say, reaching out my hand. “I study in St. Xavier’s. B.Com. What about you?”
She holds my hand. It is like placing it in a microwave. The heat almost singes me. I swear I am not exaggerating.
“I am Brenda Ghosh. I am doing arts in Lady Brabourne.”
“Wow,” I say, feeling at last that the gods in heaven have finally smiled on me, as Brenda takes leave of my hand and places it on the catalogue cards. God, in my next life I want to be a catalogue card in a women’s college library. Did you hear that? Put that info into your cosmic computer. Save it on a floppy. Don’t forget.
“I live next to Lady Brabourne.”
“What a coincidence,” she says, and smiles. She has pearly white teeth, smooth, even shaped, it probably could tear my cock into two big and several small pieces, all nine inches of it. I know what you are thinking, you hot-blooded jealous males. How can he have nine inches? After all, he is not a black from Harlem but a trembling virgin from Calcutta. I am sorry. I am exaggerating…After much huffing and pulling, I reach a majestic height of six inches. As a LIC agent would probably say, after Jeevan Raksha, honesty is the best policy.
“Why don’t we go outside?” I say. “We can talk comfortably.”
She looks me up and down. The half smile is still there and she is thinking: should I say yes or no? Is he worth it? I am clad in a blue kurta and faded Levis jeans and sandals. I wonder, all of a sudden, what sort of panties she is wearing: yellow, blue, red, violet, purple, pink or plain white. Are they big panties or small ones? I hate large panties. It is like a tent that covers everything including a man’s sexual drive. God, why can’t Indian women wear thongs like Monica Lewinsky did, when she lifted her skirt to entice Bill: Come to the Black House, Prez, from the White House.
Meanwhile, I give an ‘innocent lamb’ look and stare at the fan, with its long rod stretching from the high ceiling, its blades creaking at a snail’s pace (a reminder of my sexual life) and yet seems to be telling me: ‘Don’t hurry. Be happy. The tortoise did win the race.’ Yes fucker, you can say that. You are not as hard up for a screw as I am. And in real life, tortoises don’t win. People with Ferraris win. Ask Michael Schumacher.’
“Okay,” she says and pushes the drawer back. We walk out. Her heels make a staccato sound on the smooth floor. The girl with spectacles finally looks up, and then looks down at the cards. I quickly look at Brenda’s feet: wow, nice pointed red toenails.
We go down the wide staircase and I ask, in the winter sunlight, “You come to the library often?”
“Only when I have my exams and I need to do some research,” she says, as she puts on dark sun goggles. Now I can’t see her eyes except as a dark smudge.
There is a large lawn in front of us but the authorities have discouraged members from sitting on the grass. A little further away, to the right, there is a cement ledge under a row of trees. I point and we walk towards it. I stay back a little and watch the saree sway sexily. I wish I could take her from the back immediately, right there in the open. Fuck all this preliminary talk.
“What about you?” she asks.
“I don’t have anything to do on Sunday mornings, so I come here to pass the time,” I tell her. Although I forget to add that I had hoped to fix up a chick like her and, after umpteen visits, this was the first time it is happening.
I suddenly remember another rule in the sex help book: if you want to fuck the base, fuck the head first. “Tell me something about yourself,” I say, as we sit down. Brenda launches into her life and career while I snag on my seat belt for the long ride.
Gist of Brenda’s story: father works in a bank. Mother is a social worker. Elder brother is a software whiz kid in States, married to a Hispanic, with two children, a boy, Abel, and a girl, Maya, and a green card. Brenda stays with her parents. She wants to complete her master’s in international relations and go to the States. So do I. Who doesn’t want to go abroad? Who wants to stay in India, with its rampant nepotism and crass opportunism, the pollution and corruption (sounds like a rhyme. Am I a poet?) and a population that is growing by leaps and bounds, (sorry for the cliché!), thanks to leaking Nirodh condoms and millions of premature ejaculations. Sadly, they are always coming inside a woman, got easily through arranged marriages. Kamasutra, where are you? Rs 15 for three. Too much. A rupee has as much value here and abroad as a retired whore.
Indians pretend to be so conservative sexually, yet, deep down, they are all perverts. They prey on cousins, aunts, sisters, nieces and children. I remember a frustrated 20-year-old cousin, sleeping next to me, who stealthily pulled down my pyjamas late at night, inserted his throbbing cock between my legs, rubbed my thighs together and came in a splash. What a gooey feeling that was and I was only eight at that time.
Brenda is looking at me. Thankfully, she has pushed up her goggles.
“I am sorry,” I say, “my mind wandered. What books do you read?” I suddenly dread the answer. What if she says some author’s name that I don’t know of? That would show up my ignorance.
“I am reading Nancy Friday,” Brenda says. My sigh of relief is as loud as the fart I usually let out after having a plate of butter chicken in Sagar restaurant, all by myself.
“She’s interesting,” I say. “My secret garden’. ‘My mother/my self’…good books. I like her sexual fantasies of women. I didn’t know women were so horny.”
Is ‘horny’ too strong a word to use? It slips out of my mouth like a premature orgasm. Brenda just smiles and says, “She is a perceptive writer. As for women being horny, we are all human beings aren’t we? Sex is a strong drive.”
“Ten-wheel drive, maam. No truer words have been spoken on this planet.” I say, as I feel the beginnings of a hard-on.
“You are funny,” she says.
“Yeah, I am Charlie Chaplin’s asshole.”
This time, she laughs loudly. Her tongue is a deep healthy pink. ‘Will it ever slither around my cock,’ I think quickly. ‘What say you Norman Vincent Peale? Positive thinking = positive blowjob.’
Brenda raises one leg and places it on top of the other. ‘The cunt is temporarily closed,’ I think at once. ‘Access denied. Please contact system administrator.’
“What do you plan to do after graduation?” she asks.
‘I plan to fuck you from the back and the front,’ I think quickly. Aloud, I say, “I don’t know. Maybe, I might go into journalism. I like writing.”
“It is a noble profession,” she says.
“I don’t know about that. Nowadays, lots of journalists sell themselves to the highest bidder, especially in Delhi.”
“Is it replacing the oldest profession?” she asks.
“Gotta ask the whores about that,” I say boldly. I can’t believe I am talking like this to Brenda. Instead of trying to be polite and smart, I seem to be on a kamikazi mission (Tora, tora, tora!), with my crude dialogues, spoiling whatever little chance I have with her. Do I have Japanese genes in me, I wonder? But Brenda is a sport. She smiles and asks a tough question: “Have you been to one?”
I wish I had, but the truth is I am too scared to go alone and I don’t know anybody who has gone.
“No,” I say.
“Morality?” she asks.
“Fear and incompetence and lack of money,” I say frankly.
“You can have me if you want?” she says and looks at me keenly.
If I had been older, I would probably have had a heart seizure. I have been dreaming about this moment for years and I meet a girl and within fifteen minutes, she is offering her body to me in a very soft, sweet voice. Is this ‘designer destiny’ or what? My Adam’s apple goes up and down like an express elevator in the World Trade Centre, before it became Ground Zero (sorry, shouldn’t be joking about this.).
“Are you sure?” I ask and blink rapidly. Then I bite my lower lip and scratch my suddenly throbbing nose. Am I alive or in a coma? My hard-on is straining against my underwear.
“You have to pay for it,” she says. Now I can feel my heart really seize up and it seems to be stuck at the base of my throat. Am I in some sort of a nightmare? Has the world changed and I have been sleeping like Rip Van Winkle for the past 20 years? What does she mean?
“I don’t understand,” I say and look at her. I can feel the deflation in my hard-on. It’s heading towards the land of the Lilliputs. Gulliver is dead!
“I do sex for money,” Brenda smiles.
“You didn’t seem the type,” I say. “Why did you come to the National Library, of all places, if you are looking for customers?”
“You can get customers anywhere, even on Mount Everest,” she says.
“Mount Everest?” I say. “Wow, you can be imaginative.”
“I am sure Edmund Hilary would have loved a blowjob on top of the world,” she says, with a smile, and adds, “I came today to the library because my exams are approaching and I need to get some books. But then you approached me and I thought, ‘Why not?’ Are you interested?”
“I am. But I don’t have any money. How much do you charge?”
“Rs 500 for two hours,” she says matter-of-factly.
I gag, my face becomes hot, my hands tremble and I seem to choke on something…maybe, it is the thin slice of my purse.
“I don’t have that much money,” I say.
“How much do you have?” she asks.
I take out my purse and look into it. It’s like looking into a Black Hole in space. The late Noble Laureate S. Chandrasekhar would have felt at home. There is nothing in there except for a few measly notes, a lot of air and the smell of leather mixed with sweat.
“I have Rs 50,” I say.
She smiles broadly and says, “Try the squirrels here. How come you have no money?”
“I don’t have a job,” I say.
“Without a job, it’s difficult to get a blow job, Ajit. Get real,” she says, as she puts on her goggles.
“Wait,” I say. “Why do you do this? You seem to come from a good family.”
“Don’t moralise. I like sex and like to earn money. I don’t have to ask my parents for pocket money. That’s it,” she says and adds, “There are enough frustrated men like you out there who are willing to pay.”
I feel ashamed at her description of me. She stands up and says, “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“It’s okay,” I say and raise a palm. I watch her walk away. She is too sexy, beautiful tight ass, black hair falling like a sheet and that swaying walk on her high heels. She knows how to make men go crazy. There is a buzzing in my ears. My heart is beating at 200 beats a minute. My legs tremble. I am about to let this prize get away. She walks down the shaded tarred road, with large trees, with overhanging branches, on either side. I watch her get smaller and smaller. Suddenly I leap up and shout, “No!” I have to have this female, no matter how much it costs. She’s like Amul--utterly butterly delicious.
I run after her.
“Brenda,” I shout. She doesn’t hear. I sprint some more and call out. She turns around as I reach her and says, “Has four hundred and fifty bucks suddenly turned up in your purse?”
God, she is a mercenary. Am I going to end up losing my sanity? Kings have lost whole empires over pussy. What chance does poor little me have against this sex bomb? She could be a Hamas suicide bomber, for all I know. Might blow me up if I come too close.
“No listen, can I meet you some other time, when I have the money,” I say, as I gasp, trying to control my breathing.
“It depends,” she says. “I don’t know when I will be free.”
“Do you have a contact number?”
She stares at me. I stare at her breasts and think, ‘Open Sesame is five hundred bucks.’
“You got a pen?” she asks.
“Of course, and also a penis with twenty years supply of ink. What do you want? Parker or Ajit,” I say.
She laughs once again. “You really are funny.”
“You are beautiful,” I say involuntarily, “And sexy. You are a dream in human form.”
“Planning to write dialogues for Hindi films,” Brenda asks.
“No, seriously, I mean it,” I say.
She nods and says, “Thank you.”
I still can’t see her eyes properly because of the goggles.
“245-1121,” she says and I note it down on the palm of my hand. “I’ve got to go. I have an appointment.”
“Bye,” I say, “hope to see you soon.”
She gives a small wave and walks towards the gate. I watch her walk for some more time. My hard-on comes back in full force. The Second Coming. I turn and walk back. I need some time to recover from this encounter. I can’t believe she is doing it for money. But I like her logic. Why do it for free? Anyway, Indian men are a desperate, frustrated lot, since society does not allow an easy intermingling between the sexes. We are not allowed to touch a female, and as for kissing…it’s like committing a murder if you do it in public. It’s a repressed society that’s wants to deny the existence of sex altogether. Maybe, she is doing a social service for frustrated Indians like me. I think: where am I going to get five hundred rupees. I can’t allow this God-given chance to slip away.
I bite my fingernails. I search for McKenna’s gold in my nostrils, find a couple of useless black nuggets and think, ‘money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world’. I wonder what Abba is doing these days. Well, I am sure they don’t have money problems like me. I need five hundred bucks and I need it fast. And I am not Abba. I am Ajit Verghese, a commerce student, living in poor Calcutta, without a job.