By Shevlin Sebastian
Farida Begum stood, with her son Shakeel, outside the door of the sixth floor flat. As she pressed the doorbell, she quickly looked around, hoping there was nobody coming up or down the stairs. She always felt a touch of nervousness, a quick intake of her breath, whenever she stood in front of this white-painted door. She wouldn’t be able to give a plausible excuse if somebody asked her what she was doing here. She adjusted the folds of her yellow chiffon saree and touched her bobbed hair, above both her ears, to see whether everything was in place. Her four-year old son, in a denim shirt and trouser, watched her silently. A few moments later Jojo D’Souza, bare-bodied and in Bermuda shorts, opened the door, with a flourish and a wide smile on his face.
“Hi!” he said, as he looked at Farida. His eyes widened quickly in appreciation as he noted the slim waist and the bulging breasts, the smooth arms, exposed by the sleeveless blouse that she wore, and the lips a stunning red, thanks to a generous application of lipstick, and then he bent down and picked up the boy and said, “How are you little master?”
Shakeel smiled, showing white milky teeth.
“Say ‘I am fine, thank you,” Farida said, as they entered the flat.
“Fine, thank you,” Shakeel said, in the lilting tone of young children.
“Do you want a chocolate?” Jojo said.
“Yes uncle,” Shakeel said, as he stared at Jojo’s hairy chest and rippling biceps. He plucked at some of the hairs.
“Do you want to have hair like this?” Jojo said, with a smile.
“Yes uncle,” Shakeel said.
“Then you have to grow up.”
Farida looked with frank lust at Jojo’s tanned body. His skin was the colour of brown chocolate. He had a flat stomach and strong, muscular legs all brought about by the regular weightlifting that he did in a nearby gymnasium on Royd Street.
Shakeel pulled a lock of Jojo’s shoulder-length hair. “Ouch,” Jojo said, in a mock voice of pain. “Shall I do the same to you?”
“No, uncle, I want chocolate,” Shakeel said, as he released the lock of hair.
They were standing in the drawing room that had very little furniture except for a low brown sofa, which was placed next to a window. Against the opposite wall, was a Sony television set.
“Guess what Farida,” Jojo said in an excited voice. “I got a new CD player. Come, I’ll show you.” He placed Shakeel on the sofa and went to the television set. The CD player was placed in a shelf below it.
“See these discs,” Jojo said, taking out one, “How wonderful it looks. And the sound is mind-boggling.”
“Where did you get it?” Farida asked, bending down on her haunches to look closely at the player.
“Uncle, I want chocolate,” Shakeel cried out, as he jumped up and down on the sofa in his shoes.
“Just a minute, Shakeel… David, a friend of mine, was going for a holiday to Singapore, so I told him to get me one.”
“It’s beautiful,” Farida said, as she watched the colours of a rainbow being formed when she pointed the disc towards the sunlight. She then shouted, “Shakeel, take off your shoes.”
She went across and took off his shoes and placed it on the floor.
“Come on, let me play you Kenny Rogers, your favourite,” Jojo said, as he put a CD inside the player and pressed ‘play’.
“Last night, there was a ruckus in the hotel,” he said, turning to look at Farida, who was sitting on the sofa, one leg on the knee of the other. “We were playing the usual rock and roll stuff, me going crazy on the drums, when a group of men came in, totally drunk and they wanted us to play songs of K.L. Saigal. I have barely heard of Saigal and so Jeff apologised and said that we did not know any Saigal numbers. The men got angry and abused us. Things would have gone out of control but the manager intervened and a compromise was reached. We played Kuch na kaho from 1942 and Ek do teen char from Tezaab.”
“Uncle, I want chocolate,” Shakeel moaned.
“Okay, okay,” Jojo said, as he raised his hands in mock surrender. Then he went in a semi jog to the kitchen. Farida admired the strong shoulders and the bulging chest, so different from her unfit and indifferent husband. He returned holding a Kitkat.
“Say, thank you,” Farida said, as Shakeel tore open the packet.
“Thank you uncle,” Shakeel said, as he bit into the chocolate. The red cover lay on the floor.
“That’s okay beta,” Jojo said. “Farida, how do you like the sound?”
“Beautiful,” Farida said, as she bent and picked up the paper and crumpled it into a ball, “the sound is so clear.”
“Welcome to the world of CD music,” Jojo said as he sat cross-legged on the red carpet.
“I didn’t know you could play Ek do teen,” Farida said, suddenly “I thought you only played English music.”
Jojo grinned and said, “This is the only Hindi song I know well, to be frank.”
“Shakeel, give uncle a piece of chocolate,” Farida said.
“Take uncle,” Shakeel said, pointing the bar, which had teeth marks on it.
“You have bitten this end,” Farida said, “give the other side.”
Shakeel broke a piece of chocolate from the other end and gave it to Jojo.
“Thank you beta,” Jojo said, as he put the chocolate inside Farida’s mouth. A little bit of chocolate stuck to Jojo’s finger and Farida, seeing it, licked it off. He grinned and felt the beginnings of a hard-on.
“How is Niaz?” he asked and held her hand as Shakeel gazed out of the window.
“He is always on tour in the northeast tea gardens, for his company, I hardly see him,” Farida said, smirking.
Shakeel started jumping up and down.
“Be careful beta,” Farida said.
Jojo said, “Come on Farida, let’s go have some tea.”
In the kitchen, Farida dropped the chocolate packet into the waste bin while Jojo opened a wooden cabinet on the wall above his head and took out a tin of Brooke Bond and opened the refrigerator and took out a Mother Diary milk pouch.
“Is he still on coke?” Jojo asked, as he lit the gas stove.
“Yes,” Farida said, handing him the sugar bowl. “He was an addict before our marriage and has not changed. We are always having financial problems because he spends all his money on drugs. And you know that even though I have a master’s degree in literature from Calcutta University, he will not let me work. Because we are living in a joint family, we somehow manage.”
They sipped the tea from steel glasses.
Jojo stared at Farida’s midriff, which was exposed, because she had worn the saree way below her waist.
“Is he still impotent?” he asked.
“Sometimes, yes, but mostly, he is not interested in making love,” she said.
“But I am,” Jojo said and smiled and put the glass down on the counter.
“How strange that we are friends,” Farida marveled, “I come from a Muslim family and you are a Christian.”
“Fate,” Jojo replied, as he came closer, “that’s the only way to explain it. It also helps that I was Niaz’s college mate.”
Farida smiled as she put her glass down. “I am feeling hot,” Jojo said. “Can you see my nipples? They are standing.” He pressed his nipple and it began to swell up.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “Are they as responsive as a woman’s?”
“Lick it,” Jojo commanded.
Farida bent down and licked the nipple and she could see it swelling up.
Jojo picked up the short Farida, lifted her up and kissed her violently on the mouth.
She put her arms around Jojo’s mouth and responded with her tongue. They stayed like that for a while. Then she broke away and whispered, “Don’t forget, Shakeel is here.”
Jojo shut the kitchen door and placed a stool against it, as there was no lock. He came back and kissed Farida on her forehead, her cheeks, her necks and ears. Farida closed her eyes and moaned in sheer pleasure. Jojo pulled at her saree and Farida with feverish fingers unhooked the clips of her orange blouse. A madness was entering her eyes. She forgot where she was. A blind lust arose in her, as her breasts heaved from the unsteady breathing. Jojo yanked off his Bermudas and lay on top of her. His ebony skin was in striking contrast to her pale, white skin.
In the drawing room, Shakeel, feeling bored, had got up on the window sill and was standing with his socks. He gripped the thin, long perpendicular rods, and saw buildings on all sides and the ubiquitous trams, rickshaws, cars and mini buses, moving along, far below, on Royd Street.
Jojo entered Farida as she jerked her head from side to side. She lifted her legs and pressed her heels against the small of Jojo’s back. Her own back was paining because she was lying on the hard floor but she ignored the pain each time Jojo thrust forward. There was a red flush on her face and soft sighs escaped from her mouth like drops of water from a leaking pipe. Jojo was perspiring in the afternoon heat. His tongue hung out and his biceps swelled with the effort of the forward-backward movement.
Shakeel placed his head between the gills, but it got stuck. Hurriedly, he pulled his head back. He tried again and this time, by twisting it from one side to another, he pushed his head through. Now, with mounting fear and excitement, he pushed his body through and now he was outside. He looked down and experienced vertigo. He quickly turned his back and gripped the rod tightly. He called out, “Ma!” But Kenny Rogers was singing too loudly, “Islands in the stream, that is what we are, no one in between…”
As the slap of flesh became more and more loud, Farida’s long fingernails raked Jojo’s back in straight and diagonal lines.
“I want more,” she whispered with a fierce urgency. “More, more, more. Ah, oh, ah, oh God!”
Jojo cried, “Okay bitch” and increased the speed of his thrusts and Farida could feel an orgasm rise up in her, almost similar to a tidal wave, as it rose and fell with an almighty crash.
Shakeel’s head hit the edge of a wall and split into two. There was a spattering of blood all around and bits of white, gluey brain spilled on the ground, as he lay still and unmoving, instantly dead.
Within seconds, Jojo gripped her shoulders so tightly that Farida felt that she would be crushed, as he shed his load inside her.
After that, he lay heavily on her, his mouth open, breathing like a marathon runner and whispered, “Oh God, that was simply wonderful.”
And slowly Farida opened her eyes, and she could now feel a dull throbbing pain at the base of her spine.
“Jojo, get up,” she said, “my back is paining. The ground was so hard although I couldn’t remember it.”
“The ecstasy of sex,” Jojo said, as he got off Farida’s body.
“Get dressed quickly,” Farida said. “This is madness. Shakeel is in the next room.”
Jojo smiled as he picked up his shorts from the floor. His whole body was encased in a sheen of sweat. “I need a bath now,” he said. “These summer afternoons are so hot and humid.”
Farida began to get dressed quickly.
Meanwhile, the durwan, an old man with a black fez cap, had discovered Shakeel’s body and shouted for help.
People rushed from the street and the other flats in the building.
Jojo pushed the stool to one side and went into the drawing room. Shakeel was nowhere to be seen.
“Shakeel, where are you?” he called out, as he took out the Kenny Rogers CD and put in a Michael Bolton album.
He went into the bedroom. There was nobody around. The room was mostly bare. There was a cloth stand at one corner and a coir carpet on the floor. He peered under the bed. He checked the bathroom and it was empty. He went back to the drawing room and saw that Shakeel’s shoes were in front of the sofa. He lifted the sofa cover and looked underneath but there was an undisturbed film of dust. He checked the entrance but it was locked from inside.
He went to the kitchen as Farida was buttoning up her blouse.
“Have you seen Shakeel?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” Farida asked, a look of fear in her eyes.
“He does not seem to be around,” Jojo said. Bolton started singing, ‘How am I supposed to live without you?’
They frantically searched all the rooms of the flat. “Shakeel,” Farida called out in a low voice. Slowly, her voice increased in volume till, in the end, she was shouting, “Shakeel, where are you hiding?”
It was then that Jojo looked out of the window and saw a crowd of people standing below. Something was very wrong.
“Farida,” he shouted, “we have to go downstairs.” He grabbed a t-shirt and the house keys and they ran down the stairs.
“Move please,” Jojo said, as he pushed his way through the crowd and stared aghast at the dead body. Farida saw Shakeel’s body and let out a long, loud despairing wail.
The body was first taken to Assembly of God hospital and after Shakeel was declared dead, it was taken to Farida’s house in Park Lane. Niaz, who was in Guwahati, was told to return as fast as possible. Relatives gathered in the flat, to bathe the body and prepare it for the funeral.
When Niaz came, thin, with black curly hair and a wisp of a moustache, he took Farida to the bedroom to hear what had happened. And when Farida tried to explain, her face streaked with tears, Niaz just stared at her. Then he put his hands around Farida’s throat and pressed hard. As Farida gasped for breath, he hissed, “What were you doing in Jojo’s flat? You know, I always suspected that something was going on. I am going to kill the bastard.”
Farida could not answer because Niza had cut off her oxygen supply.