Note: Some parts of this piece might be considered as adult content
If you have been paying attention, I had finished telling you about Rohini’s frilly frock in the last part, so without wasting any further time, let’s get back to what lay beyond that august piece of fabric, however inadequate it appeared, for the purpose for which the cotton with which it was made, had been picked.
Wandering south of Rohini’s skirt was like hang-gliding off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Her knees were a bit knobby but at that point in time I would have grown to love even knobby knees. Further south were a shapely pair of calves and fleshy ankles that gave way to a pair of feet that were divine. Evenly sized toes with no nail polish, sported silvery slim toe rings on each big toe.
Rohini said she had just purchased the toe rings from a pushcart vendor in Gariahat the previous day. Earlier that evening, while we were playing Monopoly on the terrace, she had brought both feet up to my face and wiggled the toe rings inches from my nose, only the big toes sticking out while the little ones were curled in. She had been coquettish,” You like? Gosh, things are so unbelievably cheap here. Would you believe I got them for around five Canadian cents?” I had managed to burble an “umm..uh..yes, they are cute”.
I can see those toe rings clear as crystal, even after four and a half decades. I guess I got my yen for female feet from Rohinidi. Do you think it’s a fetish? Fetish sounds dirty, in a sleazy, bohemian way. It feels like a taboo that’s dangerous, perverse, maybe even a bit antibiotic. Heck, who gives a shit anyway. Under similar circumstances my colleague, Laszlo would say,” DILLIGAD?” (Do I Look Like I Give A Damn?). Or maybe even DILLIGAF? When you’re 60, it becomes easy to get these things off your chest.
As for calves and ankles, most Indian women have spindly, tapering calves and bony ankles that I would rather not spend time with, but Rohini’s were more Caucasian, like the ones you see here in the west, nice and fleshy.
As she leaned over and reached out for another chapatti, multiple things happened – her banyan folded, just enough for me to get my first glimpse of teenage breasts. Then, as if that weren’t enough, the casserole that had the chapattis in it was on my side and Rohini had to roll over on her tummy to reach over the food spread, drawing up her frock till it was fighting to cover her butt.
She could easily have asked me for a chapatti and I’d have handed her one, but she didn’t and with every chapatti, the hem lifted a bit further up, never quite returning to it’s previously held coordinates. I was sure physics had something to with it. If my last name had been Newton, I would have seen an entirely new fundamental law in this. The fundamental law of frocks. Instead, I had to settle for simply wishing that that casserole was a magic casserole with an unending supply of chapattis in it and that Rohini would keep eating them till eternity.
There was a certain innocence in the spectacle, given that she was oblivious of the effect she was having on my pubescent senses. All this was…forget it, I would like to take the fifth and not testify on the specific details of the terrain any further. I am getting too worked up. I am taking medication for BP and cholesterol and the doctor has started me on an aspirin every night. You know what that means. If I suddenly died, I wouldn’t want to go just thinking of sex, but while actually having it. Like Oscar Wilde’s Dad did.
Suffice it to say that I stared and Rohini didn’t seem to notice. She broke the spell with, “I always alternate between sweet and salty,” she dipped her chapatti inside a bowl of Keshtokaka’s sweet mango chutney and held it out to me,” Here, try this. You’ll love it.”
Before I could reach up to take it from her hand, she had shoved it into my mouth. I was unprepared and a little chutney spattered onto my cheek. She ran an index finger over it, scraped it up and held it up to me and said,” Clumsy! Here, lick it up.” Unstoppable now, she skirted the shotoronchi and came over to my side and held my chin up with one hand as she thrust her finger into my mouth and I squirmed in discomfort as I licked and sucked it clean, while I made sounds like ‘glluggg..rrurrghh…’ Hey, now I know where I got my finger fetish.
“Tell me what life is like out there, Rohinidi” I said, “What does a day in the life of Rohini Dastidar look like?” I desperately wanted to get onto a normal decent conversation. Besides, I was a curious kid. She launched into how things like the mass transit system worked, the buses and the metro rail, with me wondering awestruck at a way of life that was so far advanced from ours in India that it seemed alien.
I wanted to know about the university where she was going to do her Bachelors that fall and she warmed into a descritption of Concordia University – the lovely campus, the Gothic, ivy-covered faculty buildings of the Loyola Campus, the cosmopolitan crowd, the fresh eager faces and of course, all those boys. I wondered if it would be any use reminding her of Jean Jacques, the fiddler she was ‘going out’ with. She had a way with words and I could see that she would be a brilliant narrator some day. Journalism was an appropriate pick.
“Why do university buildings in the west always have ivy on them, Rohinidi? It seems that more the ivy, the more prestigious the school is, huh?”
“I don’t know. Maybe they want there to be places that students can feel some amount of privacy in, while they crouch under the ivy and kiss,” she giggled and I groaned. This girl was like a tug that insisted on guiding the ship of our conversation into turbulent waters.
Thank God we were back sitting down properly on either side of the shotoronchi because that’s when Keshtokaka returned home. Not seeing us downstairs, he came looking. He peeked first in the chather ghor (my room on the rooftop), and then stepped into the blackness of the sprawling roof through the doorway, simultaneously flicking on the light.
Seeing us and noting that we were done eating, Keshokaka hurried over and began piling up the casseroles. He turned to scoop them up from the floor and that’s when he saw the remnants of the chutney smeared on my right cheek and me flushed and unsteady.
“Are you okay, Chotodada? Was the ghonto too spicy? You are sweating profusely….” he asked peering into my face.
“Uh..yes..a bit. But it was still delicious, Keshtokaka, thank you,” I stammered, trying hard to regain my composure. I dropped the shotoronchi thrice before I was able to roll it up. Rohini had meanwhile disappeared down the stairs and I supposed I would see her again only next morning.
I staggered down the stairs, made straight for the prayer room and stood the shotoronchi up in the corner, exactly as it had been before and was turning to go back up when I was almost yanked off my feet and dragged to the far corner of the darkened prayer room.
The gloves were off this time. “Shhh,” she said and clamped her parted lips on mine, smothering me, as I tried vainly to push her away. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. I loved every bit of it. She must have brushed her teeth right after she came down, because her lips tasted minty and fresh. She had prepared for this.
“You should be…glub.. ashamed of yourself…blub.. What will Jean-Jacques…glubbub.. think? Why don’t you..glub glub…go torture…blugublub..someone else” My words came out garbled as I laughed with my mouth half open, my lips flattened by hers, trying to resist the tongue that insisted on snaking in and fluttering around my teeth and gums.
Rohini giggled as she slipped one strap of her banyan off her shoulder, grabbed my hand and pressed my palm against a nipple, rubbing feverishly on it, over and over. That was the first of the many times that I have been fortunate to have touched a nipple that way, but soon guilt overrode all other senses and I managed to twist my hand off her grasp and break free. In panic, terrified that Keshtokaka had heard the scuffle, I ran up the stairs and slammed the door of my room shut. It took a while for my breathing to get back to normal.
Up in the chather ghor, it was suddenly quiet and I realized that the slats on the two windows were down. I wanted to let some air in. Those days, windows with slats, that could be opened and closed, were common. The slats were hooked on to a central wooden rod that you could move up and down. Up, they shut and down, they opened. No one opened the window itself, though on particularly hot nights we had to.
I threw open the windows and began changing into my pyajamas. When my shorts were completely off, I noticed that I was wet, slippery wet down there. Until then this little tiddly-twit had never meant anything to me except when I was in class and had to pee but couldn’t. At that moment it was semi-stiff and when I touched the tip, a little ooze smeared my fingertips.
The fluid that had oozed out seemed a bit opaque but it had the same texture as the Brahmi Amla Kesh Tel, the coconut oil that I would apply on my hair on Sundays. I was stumped and being the timid sort, I wondered if there was something wrong with me down there.
I had heard that Alexander Fleming, the great biologist who discovered penicillin, had expressed similar puzzlement when he came upon the slimy staphylococci in the petri-dish in his lab and out of curiosity, felt it between his fingertips. That I haven’t gone on to achieving greatness like he, cannot be held against me since both discoveries, his and mine, were entirely accidental. In any case, I resolved to check with my classmate, Yogin, if he too had had a similar ‘issue’, if you will pardon the pun.
On the table, my math tutorial page was open. I had to hand it in on Monday and I had the weekend to finish it. Then there was Macbeth and the one-page essay I had to submit, on the symbolism of the three witches and those three horrible apparitions that they conjured up for Macbeth.
And then here was this other witch, this flibbertigibbet from Canada, who had made up her mind to have her way with me, one way or another.
Oh yeah, 1968 was a seminal year in more ways than one – my first love, my first kiss, my first brush with a nipple. And let’s see, what else? Ah yes, of course, why wouldn’t 1968 be ‘seminal’?
What do you think the noun for the word ‘seminal’ is? 😀