I watched intensely the potter moulding a pot on his wheel. His wet, mucky hands
had mastered the shape of the forming pot. His fingers moved artistically as though they were feeling the contours of
a woman’s body. I could see my nostalgic past weaving through the fast spinning wheel. It was a story within
a story, filled with sex, lies and guilt.
Time had fluttered by like the
seasons of the year; each day in my life had left behind a haunting memory. Those holy ghostly moments shifted in and
out of my reverie, even as I watched the pot taking final shape. My brown eyes focused to the centre of the potter’s
wheel. It became the crystal ball of my past. The greyish-black clay suddenly looked a fiery red as though flames
were reaching the heaven—and I saw it all—frame by frame. I felt as though I was John the disciple seeing
visions of Christ’s second coming. What I saw were deep set memories—wounds that tended to bleed even after
getting superficially healed. It was all fresh after so many years had passed by. As the wheel gained speed, I felt
as though my soul got shunted to a different period. It was not thousands of years back—it was my yesterday—it
was related to me—the smug pot maker. As the wheel gained speed I felt as though my soul had got shunted to another
world—it kept going round and round like the blades of a rusted fan.
felt as though I was back home sitting in my dilapidated veranda, rocking myself like an infant in a cradle. The old
rocking chair creaked under my weight. Nobody had bothered to oil its old bones as it was falling apart like the garden
ahead of me. There were no more roses, lilies, dandelions, asters, hypericum, hyacinths or wild orchids. Nature
died a natural death with the departure of my mother. What remained throughout the year were the cactus and the itchy
congress grass. The backyard had a few surviving trees of cork, whose seasonal white flowers hung gloriously like earrings
on a pretty face. Sometimes it formed a virginal white carpet on the ground, making it easy for the girls to pick and
smell them. A lone eucalyptus, whose bark seemed to be peeling off like diseased human skin, stood firmly in the centre
of the barren garden. A broken pond, which was shaded by a tamarind tree, had become a watershed for the cattle in the
locality. Nothing had changed—broken roof tiles, cobwebs, black lizards clicking their sticky tongues, cockroaches crawling
out of the open drain, and urchins running across to search for gems in the overflowing dustbins. What they found were saline
bottles, used condoms and decayed food that had some enviable fungus growing on it.
saw another frame featuring in the crystal ball—my mother’s photograph that hung lopsided in one corner of the
house. The wooden frame decayed with the leakage of rainwater from the rooftop. No one remained to take care of this
haven where warmth and love had once existed. It had broken apart with a lousy sister-in-law and a brother who lived
in a fool’s paradise. A deep crack could not be cemented back to its normal status. Tears flooded my eyes as I
saw the blessed smile on my mother’s faded lips. It was a smile that still consoled my weeping spirit—and I lived
with it day by day.
Some of the apparitions who visited the imaginary crystal
ball seemed blurred. I saw a faded picture of my ancestor’s tear-stained face hanging around the decayed house,
which had been built by selling coconut oil. Now the wandering spirits saw paint peeling off, broken windows, plaster
coming out, floor tiles ripped open and stolen, drainage pipes rusted—the huge courtyard became a resting place for
stray dogs and donkeys. It was a miserable sight. I sighed at the loss of old memories, which soon faded away.
Visions entered the crystal ball with great speed and vanished in the same manner. My eyes feasted once again on my past.
My eyes became sore and tired at some of those gory tales from the past. I could not hide from them. I felt like screaming
like a mad woman when I saw the past.
Then I saw the face of my notorious father who got reformed by joining a band of kinky American missionaries.
I heard that he was preaching the gospel and converting the downtrodden to his religion. He stank as his moral teaching
did. How could this man be redeemed from his earlier sins? Would his chosen God forgive him for neglecting my
ailing mother, stealing money for an extra peg at the local arrack shop, and sleeping with a whore when my mother was gasping
to live? He was not even present to see her bedsores oozing with pus nor had he come on time when she was laid to rest.
He arrived when the coffin was sealed, lowered and the mud mound built. He fell on his knees and wept like an injured
sea beast. I wanted to kick him on the face for his betrayal. Now the bastard had turned into a gentleman, teaching
people the way to salvation.
I wanted to brush aside that scene when white cassock-clad missionaries stormed into the fireball. They
made me sick. What were they teaching the masses? “Follow the steps of the Almighty—surrender yourselves
from sinful ways.” It was a religious political party where people kept breaking from one denomination to form
another. You saw some liberated ones who, instead of housing God in its four walls, believed in forming new groups—”Believers,”
“Body of Christ,” “Jehovah,” “Born Again,” “Jesus Calls,” etc., and they strongly
felt that they did not need the guidance of the Church nor the Bishop. I always wondered how authentic their praises
to God were? All these holy men gathered small congregations in their backyards singing praise to God and talking about
the second resurrection of God, and I remember someone sane saying, “We have more preachers and hear more sermons than
anytime in the history of the church. But where is the message of the Lord?” How true it sounded.
How easy it was for these preachers to sway the people away from the teaching of God to be corrupt under its holy banner.
A time would arrive when they would devour and destroy each other and that would be the second coming for me. “Beware
of these heathens who move away from the Almighty,” my mind screamed. This place stank of holy fever, men and
women in white cassocks praising God. The whole sect was politicised by these white-skinned men to whom we wretched
Indians bowed. Their white colour seemed like a lizard’s peeled off skin. How I hated them from the core
of my heart.
were always afraid of this tribe who associated themselves with the West. Hollywood had built an unsophisticated image
of them—cheap roles of tarts, alcoholics, pimps, adorning garish clothes with crosses in their ears and round the neckline
showing off thighs and cleavages. The converts had been given the position of minorities in secular India, and the politicians
did not care for their security. They had become like the dalits, getting attacked by the fanatics of the country.
Yet this liberal clan with their rigid concepts and holy confessions had lead the so-called free Indians into temptation by
letting them imitate their lifestyle and mannerisms. I saw the nuns from the convent pass by. A chill ran down
my spine as I watched their vision looming in front of me. Their robes hung loose over their ankles and the old order
kept to the tradition of Roman sandals, bloomers, loose bosoms and shaven hair. I escaped from their clutches like a
rabbit from a snare and dedicated myself to making clay pots. I utilised my energy by becoming independent rather than
by standing in choirs singing hymns and eyeing the good looking priest. My work sang a different theme—a holy
nun I could never have become.
The chimera in the crystal diverted my thoughts from the holy order to the cemetery where my mother lay.
The raw mud mound had not been swept away by the passing monsoon. The dry flowers that had been placed as tributes from
loved ones had decayed. The wooden cross stood erect with an epitaph on it. “Here lies Christabel—may
her soul rest in peace.” I doubted the peace bit as she died a miserable death. My hand stretched out to
a wild shrub that sprung near the grave with pink blossoms. Maybe it was she in disguise to give me inspiration to survive.
I reached out to pluck a few flowers and then withdrew—she would never have appreciated that—and I heard her say,
“Let them grow in their natural surroundings instead of placing them in a glass jar.” Right now I felt like
an uprooted plant that was left to die in the scorching summer heat.
This was a place where I could sit surrounded by my illusions and sob out my sorrows.
The next time I visited this place I thought of building her grave—but it never happened—the mound remained a
mound in all my dreams. My pained eyes roved the graveyard. It seemed as though the dead were caught in a marshy mesh—uprooted
trees, grass, broken pipeline—where the water had surfaced, flattening some of the mounds, leaving the cross to identify
the dead person’s name. Some of the engraved marble tablets had been stolen. Nobody really bothered about
the dead. The place of the dead had become a public entry for thieves, cowherds, cattle and human excrement. The graveyard
was my so-called Christian world from which I had run away to seek myself in the wet clay.
The crystal ball seemed not to smoke anymore of my past.
The fire and images died down. The potter called—
“Memsahib”. I didn’t hear. I was taking time to focus back on
“Memsahib,” he said louder. A spark seemed to suddenly get cut out from my preoccupied mind.
“Yes, Ramu,” my
voice sounded in a trance as my pupils were hazily dilated to the centre of the wheel.
“Memsahib, someone to
see you.” My eyes caught sight of the pot that Ramu’s hand had created. My mind started working on
the lavish colours that I would be using to make this greyish clay look vibrant.
“Memsahib, someone to see you.”
“Ah! Piroska,” and I looked forward to meeting the Red Riding Hood.
The unruly summer sea wind unscrupulously undressed Piroska’s shoulders by blowing aside her loose muslin
dress straps. This action of nature exhibited her deep dented shoulder blades to the dimly lit mouthful of the sky that
could be seen through the holes of the thatched roof. Piroska cared less for her nakedness, as she was proud to display her
flawless honeyed skin to the dipping amber sun, whose soft eroticism made the dark blue sea waves blush. She had no
idea that someone across the bamboo shack was amused by her idleness, fascinated by her crossed tanned shapely legs.
He intently watched her with a sly grin, caressing the stem of the empty wineglass as though it were his lover’s face.
He gazed at her from his
abated position and paid sincere compliments to her in his mind—she was traditionally a beautiful nymph, her skin from
a distance seemed to be smooth and unblemished like a delicate sea mermaid’s. He hastily gulped his peg of Mexican
rum, enjoying the warmth of the liquid that gurgled down his macho throat lustily, his deep set, sunken hazel eyes laid transfixed
upon Piroska’s visage. She seemed to be different from the rest who visited Goa for a holiday. Her face
expressed moods of escapism from the mundane reality, her stark, stone blank looks staring, and she at times seemed nonplussed
by the passionate sea breeze. Her pallor made him wonder if she was opiated by some drug—or had the mysterious sea mesmerised
her to an over effective plane—he had to find out. So occupied was she, that she did not see him get up and walk
in her direction.
had been avoiding her mind to trespass into the dark past. Her marriage to Ashok two years ago, its traumatic end was
shadows that followed her like a ghost wherever she went. All the horrors seemed as though it happened yesterday—her
body quivered with pain and she barely bent her head for a lonely sob—when a sudden flash of a coin being thrown up
captured her wandering mind abruptly. Someone had tossed a coin for heads or tails, and Piroska had refused to avert
her eyes from her bent position towards the noise of the rolling coin on the table further back in the shack. Whoever
it was had his or her own style of gambling—and this approach towards the street style did not bother her.
But something else tickled
her delicate nostrils—the pungent smell of cigar smoke forced her to double up for an irritating cough. She turned
her face angrily to feast upon a lop-sided grin, on a stranger’s lips that had powerful pagan features. Her heart
trembled as any Eve’s would have at the sight of his dynamic and infinitely Herculean body. The electrifying wicked
gaze of the man made Piroska turn her head speedily back to the dark seawater, seeking comfort in the faded dusk and the silent
slush of the sea ripples. His presence disturbed her, and she did not want to mix with men who made her soft cheekbones
seep up with blood.
He gave her no time to gather her scattered wits.
He pulled out a cane chair from her table, flopping gingerly into it without flinching his untamed eyes from her dazed face.
Relaxing himself into an eagle-spread position and showing off his sexy sinewy muscles, he seemed at ease in her fluttered
presence. There was a limpid silence lurking between the two strangers. The man’s careless tranquillity,
his acrid cigar smell, and his tight closeness annoyed Piroska. Her confused mind raged like a storm to tell him that
he was ill mannered and uncivilised for disturbing her solitude. She opened her mouth only to close it, like a breathing
gold fish as he heavily drawled into her face.
“Your flushed face assumes that you have been disturbed by my intervention, it
is only a rare chance when I do get to refill a damsel’s empty glass.”
“The audacity of this wild wolf,”
Piroska’s mind screamed—his uncouth mannerism, his ruthless method of continuously puffing the distressing smoke
onto her fair face made her livid. The creature seemed least alarmed by her bouts of coughing fits and her hands being
flung around trying to breeze the smoke away like a Japanese hand fan.
“Keep that damn burning stick away,” she hissed
like a snake harshly into his dense expressionless face.
He showed no reactions, his opaque hazelnut eyes shimmered
with laughter at her feline mood. She looked like an enchantress with eyes spitting fire, fingers tightly curled into
her palms, baring the extra whiteness on her knuckles. He blatantly ignored her outburst and continued to inhale the
smoke by taking long sophisticated drags, making her more mad—how angry women turned him on mentally and even more physically,
he thought. This petite, pretty angel seemed like an over bubbling, hot mixed broth when she pouted out with courage,
“Uncivilised barbarian—you suck!”
He showed no interest in her stern tone and it seemed as if Piroska had spoken to the
wind God. His silence irritated her and she felt like biffing him in the face. Yet, she could not help watching
the strong muscled column of his throat contract as the amber liquid flowed down in one rush.
“Do you gamble, Mr.
“Yes, for dolls who make the muscles in my thighs vibrate. Call me Yash, kitten,” he said,
without thinking that it was necessary to introduce himself like an English gentleman. Little was Yash aware that his
presence annoyed every nerve in her body, and she wanted to be bitchy to him. Sometimes she got into the mood of a snapper.
She wanted to bark like a mad dog, growl like a tigress and hiss like a cobra. In such moods she had no control over her caustic
“I think you enjoy pulling chairs at wrong tables and love to blow that acidic smoke into faces of strangers
till they choke with suffocation,” she mewed like a cross cat looking straight into his wild dancing eyes. A wandering
goddess would have swooned to his feet. He was so bloody handsome.
“Control,” her mind seemed to warn. This silly
mind of hers always interfered at wrong times.
Yash gave a hollow laugh at her incensed face, and his eyes roved around her white shoulders
and finally rested upon her swelling bosom, making her conscious of her sweet bareness. Piroska’s reflexive actions
swiftly made her pull the soft straps over her semi-clad self—this man’s gaze was as sharp as Achilles arrows
and they made her feel feeble. Yash grinned to himself; enlivened by her shyness and vulnerability; he wanted to reach
out like king Midas and touch the smoothness of her skin, but was afraid to turn her into gold.
Piroska watched his lips break into a broad smile, a wicked one it looked, as he hailed his glass (for what she
didn’t know) in her direction, toasting her for her beauty and innocence. With that task accomplished, he abruptly shifted
his position towards the deathly looking dark water, insulting her with his silence. The silence was suffocating as both watched
the mysterious sea, waiting for the other to speak.
After a long sinister hush, he broke the calmness of his meditative mood with his icy
“Do you always look so angelically fresh and flushed and in the habit of dangerously permitting nature
to flirt around with your body contours? Miss….!”
“Piroska is the name. Your careless barbarian method
of flirting with me doesn’t give me much appetite to answer. I must be going as your company stinks!” She
said the last sentence with great difficulty. Yash gave her no time to think as he blurted vehemently, raising his thick
brows with sarcasm,
“Maybe had I kissed your red lips, and held you in my arms caressing your long spinal cord, you would have
enjoyed my presence.”
Piroska rose immediately after hearing him, her cheeks were aflame like a budding pink
rain flower, her pulse raced faster than usual, she had to keep away from Yash’s intoxicating presence. Her steps
were held back as he caught her wrist and forced her to sit down, not letting go of her hand. His grip seemed like prisoner’s
hand cuffs—and she felt netted in that hold.
“Leave my hand, you bastard, you are hurting me,” she screamed aloud, making
the situation more embarrassing as a few heads turned in their direction. She tried to pull her hand away but stopped
dead as she saw a sudden change in Yash’s eyes. It seemed as though Piroska had burst a colourful bubble.
She had uttered something amiss —as she saw the flames on his face reach his ears.
“Bastard, did you utter,
little vixen? I have seen many of your breed wanting to spread their legs like butter on bread and be humped.
You hurl nasty words only because the going did not work. I can still take you behind the shack, and show you what a
doggie position is—but what you deserve is not a screw but …,” he wrung her hands, making tears squeeze
out easily from her eyes. He had made her feel cheap by hurling those nasty remarks. What did he think she was—a
wayside whore who wanted a quickie from this hunk? He was mistaken!
“Damn, damn you fu….,”
she stamped her feet with rage and meowed like a frightened kitten who was confronting a bulldog. “Let go off
my hand, you beast!”
“I think, honey, you owe me a fucking apology for calling me a bastard. Though
my father fucked my mother in the shipyard and made her pregnant, he still got married to her to give me a name…understand,
you bitch?” His sudden outburst made Piroska shudder with fear. His brief angry spark got extinguished in no time,
when he observed Piroska staring gloomily into his Grecian face. He suddenly felt pity for those doe-like eyes that
looked so petrified. He let go of her hand that he had wanted to hold onto for a longer time. Piroska scampered
to get out of his sight, and in haste she nearly tripped over his stretched-out, lazy limbs.
“Easy baby, we don’t
want to nurse broken ankles, or do we?” he said with a naughty smile playing on his lips. Before allowing his
eyes to undress her mentally, Piroska shuttled out into the inviting darkness like a misguided missile that had found its
As she hastily walked on the beach, she wondered why she had been foolish enough to allow a stranger to walk
all over her in that manner. She inhaled a large gulp of humid air as she remembered his sardonic humour used on her,
and the smell of musk on him made her feel giddy and wet. She could feel the heat in her body as her bones were crying
out to be lustily touched and crushed with a violence unknown to her.
She walked dreamily back towards her beach cottage. As she unlocked the door she
sighed heavily as if having an orgasm. It had been a long time since she made love and climaxed with satisfaction.
She knew Yash would be good in bed. He smelt of the rough sea, strong and powerful. He was so different and magnetic,
unlike her fiancé, Ashara, whom she had to wed in another two months.
She wondered as she stood in the middle of her open doorway if she was really prepared
mentally to go in for another marriage—another experiment with another arranged liaison. Hell was going to break
loose once again in her life. Life itself she felt was one big confused circle and she, Piroska Bhat, the rich man’s
daughter, was mercilessly caught in the centre of it.
Piroska lay awake that night, with her thoughts concentrated on her controversial life.
She always tried to escape from reality, but the minute hazy pictures of the past invaded her confused state of mind her body
broke into sweat. This uneasy feeling made her reach out to gulp an extra dose of pills. She tried her best to
keep away from those white granules, but not always could she suppress the burning emotions within her. She always pacified
herself, that a day would arrive when she would be able to transcend herself from the bitterness of the past. That day
seemed to be on the other side of Semihazah’s dominion now—that she would be granted freedom after the day of
judgement, which seemed a long way off. By then she would be tempted into committing many sins, when even God would
fail to save her. Her mind reversed itself into the nooks and corners of her not-so-succulent past—a reminiscence
to be remembered and yet to be forgotten.
She recalled the day Ashok’s proposal came through. The whole house seemed to be on a different plane
except for her. She wanted to rebel against the stranger whom she knew nothing about. Her mother understood her
feelings, but her father paid no attention to her laments. “He’ll be a fine gentleman, an asset to our business
expansion.” Her father thought of nothing else but his business. Her marriage date was fixed and she was
afraid to go against her father’s wrath. She had to parade in front of Ashok in a simple Mysore silk sari, which
she chose instead of one of those heavy silks. Her father gave her a disgruntled look; her sense of dressing did not
seem to please him. She did not care, as she was confident of her looks and knew that she could impale any man who came
in front of her.
to her amazement, visited them minus his mother. He preferred take Piroska out, rather than have small talk with her
parents. She liked him for his assertive nature, having no hang-ups about his flourishing spice business. Yet
there was something about him that had made her very uneasy, his continuous jabber about his doting mother did not seem positive
to her. She overlooked it as Ashok being the “mama’s boy” as she was her mother’s girl.
Somewhere she had to compromise her misunderstood mind.
They got married after six months of no courtship, his widowed mother requested the dates
to be pushed further away, which did not work out, as Ashok seemed to be in a hurry to get married. Piroska took an
instinctive dislike to her sophisticated ma-in-law, who always draped herself in expensive chiffon and took excessive care
to maintain her looks and figure. She loved to drool over Ashok, kissed him like her lover, and at times her long lingering
kisses upset Piroska. She always made him nestle his head on her heavy heaving, pear-like bosom and it seemed as though
Ashok liked it. At times, Piroska felt disgusted with her over affectionate ma-in-law, who totally ignored her when
she was fussing over her son. Her presence was made to be felt untouchable, and she had to slip away into her room without
getting noticed but hurt.
What this lady could not understand was that Ashok
physically and mentally was hers. Her days of mothering Ashok should have been over when Piroska became his legal mate,
then why the need for her to exhibit her love so unprofessionally in front of Piroska? If she wanted her flesh to be
ignited, she could have made use of the men who hung around her during the numerous parties that she organised. Why
did she make Ashok her scapegoat? Many a times Piroska mentioned her ma-in-law’s uncouth behaviour to Ashok.
He just laughed it out with, “Piroska, she still thinks that I am a child,” and it was left at that.
night had been disastrous. She was a virgin and wept like a child whenever Ashok touched her. He seemed composed
at her rejection and would assure her that he would be gentle.
“Piroska, I’m not going to hurt you. Stop
“I’m not prepared!” she sobbed.
“Prepared for what? It’s like a puzzle that will fall in its place,”
he said in a quiet voice. Every time he tried to part her legs, she would tighten herself, not letting him do anything
“Do you want me to switch off the lights?”
“Then go to sleep,” and he marched out of the hotel suite in anger.
was mentioned about the episode the next day when they left for their honeymoon to Greece. Piroska smiled to herself
as she remembered the patient Ashok giving her lectures on lovemaking. He went out of the way to buy the Kama Sutra,
and told her that one day he would like to experiment with all those lovemaking actions of his ancestors on her. Her
shyness outgrew with time and this stranger became her friend more than a doting husband. She fell in love with him
and at times her ma-in-law’s over possessiveness made her sore—but then she reasoned it out; this was her only
son and she had no one else to fall back on. This free liberty given to Ashok’s mother got Piroska into trouble.
Piroska switched on her
cottage lights and blinked at its sudden brightness. The clock showed past midnight. She lit a cigarette to stump
out her past; she seldom smoked on happy thoughts, as happiness only gave her misery. She tried reading Dostoyevsky’s
“The Possessed,” but nothing seemed to register, as Yash’s face floated around her like a friendly ghost.
She cuddled the soft pillow
to her chest, and her inner conscience kept beating like a pulse machine requesting her to come to her senses. Piroska
knew that the only way to wade out of her heated nerves was to go for a swim. She wore her short black bathrobe and
slipped out into the humid air, feeling the coldness of the sand on her soles. She walked in an unknown trance towards
a gentle calm sea, which seemed to invite her, and showed its urgency to possess her beauty for the night by lapping at her
dropped her robe on the sand and, elegantly like a sea goddess, she flung her nudity to the summoning sea waves. She
lapped around, enjoying the saltiness of the water. She swam and floated under the canopy of God’s semi-lighted
shade not bothered about time and feelings. She swam vigorously at times, shaking aside her past and present.
She drowned Yash’s face by staying under water for sometime, but the wicked wolf’s image didn’t seem to
disappear. She loved swimming and learned sport at the age of three, when her father flung her into the pool and said
that she would survive to her worried mother, who had witnessed Piroska sink and also watched her daughter’s instincts
make her flap around to survive. She loved to be in the water whenever she got a chance.
Thinking that she sunk out her thoughts in the deep sea, her head feeling a bit light, Piroska swam back lazily
towards the beach.
As she firmly placed her feet on the sand, shaking the
water from her body and hair, she allowed the flirtatious sea breeze to lick out the salty droplets on her lusty concaves.
The touch of nature on her body was just divine, and at times its brutal and yet gentle caress made her climax. Her
nerves quivered at the feel of the supernatural; seduction was possible even with the unknown, like in the case of the Virgin
Mary, Kunti or Leda by Zesus. She sprang out of that illusion when a strong familiar drawl boomed behind her, beckoning
Piroska with a wild sarcasm.
“Here honey bee, wear your robe before you catch a common cold!” Piroska
screeched in fright and speedily knelt down on the sand trying to cover her nudity with her hands.
“You horror!” she lamented from under her
out a reverberating laugh, “Oh, come on, you don’t have to be shy, as there sure is more to you than that fiery
tongue,” he flung the robe in her direction and pretended to turn his Casanova face away, grinning at her prudishness.
body got hidden by the sadistic black night. She fumed at his insolent approach and felt like pulling his hair, scratching
his face and biting him till he bled to death. She felt so delighted at her adventurous mind that she wanted to dance
in joy. The cheek, the bloody cheek to creep on her like a wild tomcat—to maul her mentally—had it been
physical. Her mind raced and a chill shiver feathered down her vertebra. She seriously needed a shot of vodka to flush
have a gulp, you need some warming up,” it seemed as though he had read her mind. She acted snobbish by ignoring
the bottle that he held out in her direction.
“Come on angel, you need it. Look at yourself. You look like an ostrich trembling after being
eyes nearly popped out at that rude remark—calling her an ostrich when she had such a ravishing figure, hadn’t
he noticed it? She was sure he had! That deathly pompous smile lingering on his rustic visage drew her livid.
Though it could not be seen in the dark, she was sure it was stuck on to his smug face.
“I promise, I didn’t see much of you in
this light, just some friendly curves that the Prince of Darkness treated me to!”
“Beast!” she spat out.
He laughed aloud and his voice echoed in the silent
night and the sea waves seemed to gurgle along with his impetuous mood. “ Lucifer always loved to woo puritans
in their angelic garb. Have a gulp, this liquid would be better than warming you up in my arms.” Piroska
jumped at the held out bottle before he had any wicked intentions of grabbing her. The large gulp made her feel good.
“Do you always sneak up
your own sex attracts you better?”
“Of course they do…but beautiful butterflies like you give me an instant hard on.”
“Damn this man,”
Piroska hissed to herself.
did you know that all the betrayed Eves adore the Adam in me?”
The last line rang a bell. What did he know about her? Her past life had
been kept as a guarded secret. He must have thrown that sentence carelessly into the dark night. She preferred
to return to the safety of her cottage than dig her own grave with this man. But she couldn’t stop asking him,
“Why did you follow me?”
He said nothing and she continued with “I assume you think me to be a wayside waif who would jump into bed with every
handsome man she met for a quick screw. Forget it! I didn’t come to Goa to get mixed up with unknown strangers.
I came here to take a short break.
“From your lover?”
“It’s none of your damn business.” How had he guessed that.
“But what if it is going to be henceforth, Miss
on earth did this man come to know her surname? She never mentioned it to him. Did her father send a detective
after her? Nobody at home knew about her whereabouts, except for her mother.
“Listen, Yash, leave me alone.”
“How can I, you remind me of a stray mermaid that needs guidance.”
“Thanks for your interest,
I can find my own way around, and if you follow me again, I’ll call the cops.”
Yash laughed heartily at her threatening tone.
Nothing seemed to affect this man. She decided to walk away when her body got pulled with ease towards his muscular
chest. He smelt of cigars and she felt its taste getting mixed with her saliva as he gently kissed her. He undid
the knot of her robe and crushed her nakedness to his body. He placed his lips on her mouth and she allowed his hand
to rove along her long vertebra. He fondled her breast with a roughness strange to her and she liked it.
Piroska wanted to melt on the beach as he stroked her thighs, and continued to kiss her
by pulling back her long tresses. She moved her hand on his strong back and felt entangled in the thickness of his matted
chest. Piroska was so much involved in his passionate manoeuvres that she got a sudden shock when he pushed her aside
and huskily said, “Go away, vixen, you trouble me,” and he walked away, leaving her gaping wide mouthed.
“You son of a bitch,” she screamed like a mad witch after him. She
wanted him to hear it and come back to her, pushing her onto the sand, and making violent love to her. She wanted him
to slide open her thighs and wring them apart like an oyster, she wanted him to pound her with his worthy piston and feel
his aggressiveness inside her. Yes, she wanted to succumb to him like a flame that burnt out a lighted matchstick.
It never happened. What a fool she was! She felt like a tramp when he pushed her aside. Why did he not want
Piroska knelt and wept like a child, as her spell did not
work. She liked him and felt vulnerable at her own emotions. She knew nothing about him—and yet she felt
she knew everything about him. She decided to find out about this wolf the next day. “Why was she doing
it,” she questioned herself. She had no answer. Did she want the second marriage to break and again let
her life slide into a depression?
The first break wasn’t her fault,
it was Ashok’s. She started feeling uneasy as his stark body loomed in front of her. Before the past could
tempt her to regress into a mental trauma, she ran to her cottage, popped a sleeping pill in her mouth and fell asleep, leaving
her cottage door wide open for the wind to sooth her disturbed mind. The past always visited her in dark shadows, and
her body shivered without her being aware of it.
She tossed and turned in
her sleep; the naked body of her husband repulsed her in her dreams. She saw it all, him lowering his hardened self
into her arched body. She got up with a sob, and her legs felt cold as the bright sun peeped in through the transparent window
panes. Her head felt heavy and her eyes seemed in need of more sleep, but the only thing those heavy lids could do was
to weep hysterically like a demented woman, possessed with agony not known to anyone around her. Her tiredness made
her go back to sleep again. It bored her to live on those sleeping and anti-depressant pills. When would she lead
a normal life and dream about the stars, fairies, elves, goblins and sugar candy mountains. When will that day arrive? She
laid her head on the pillow and dozed off, dreaming of becoming a cloud moving up and down dales. As she saw herself
turning into a cloud with wings, a black evil looking cloud swept nearby, making her wings fold in with fright.
Piroska woke up late the next day with a heavy head and ruthlessly blushed, thinking
about Yash’s adventurous hands, which had sought comfort over her parched contours. As she stretched out her lethargic
self, she became determined to encounter the untamed Yash. She could not think of returning back to the mountains without
having any information about him. Not that dreaming of having a relationship with him mattered, as she knew it would
never work out, but just the thought of never seeing him again shattered her fantasy. She had a day left in Goa, and
her mind whirled at the thought of returning to Lasa. To be married to an oil tycoon’s son, whose kisses were
like a mushy snail’s walk, and whose artificial life style stank like stale butter, made her nauseated.
Ashara and she had met three times after the second formal show of exhibiting the daughter
of the house like a venetian cut glass at a raffle fair. Their last date had ended in a flare over dress code, and over
the need for woman to follow a modest conventional style of dressing. The eel hadn’t approved of her sporting
shorts and a bust buster to the pub. She had barely cushioned herself comfortably in his grey Cielo when he started
to huff and puff like an old steam engine.
“Don’t you have anything better to wear than this outfit?”
“You mean something less than this?”
“No,” he stormed,
“ something more.”
“Ashara, I am comfortable in these kinds of clothes. I have worn them since my childhood and nobody
has ever objected to them. Look around you, fashions keep changing; you have to go with the trends.”
“Which means when the
time arrives for wearing nothing, my fashion conscious fiancée will be stalking around in fig leaves.”
“I think that will also
be too much of a covering,” Piroska squealed with delight as she watched the colour drain from his face. She wanted
to provoke him a little more, but waited to reach the pub for a sip of rum ‘n’ coke.
The next twenty minutes’ drive held no conversation,
both sitting like dummies as the car sped towards its destination. Being a Monday night, the Otter’s pub was not
suffocated with people and finding an empty barstool was not difficult. Piroska gazed at her pensive fiancé’s
face, which drooled over his drink like a moth with its wings cut off. She was in a mood to be bitchy just to annoy
him rather than comfort him.
“I really don’t see any valid reason, Ashara, for you to get mad over my attire. What is your
problem, honey, is I don’t like men’s eyes popping out of their sockets when they first see you. I don’t
even like the idea of people gossiping that Ashara’s fiancée is one hellofa sex bomb!”
“That’s normal, I guess, for any man to
admire a beautiful woman as long he does not harm her.” Piroska knew that she had provoked him. She saw the seething
anger bubbling like hot lava on his livid face, and it seemed on the verge of exploding at any moment.
“Fuck you!” he said and stormed out of the
pub, leaving her alone amidst the drowning music, cocktails, and stagnant stags. A few familiar faces around the bar
gave her scornful and sympathetic smiles. Kavita, the pub’s pussy, had the courage to slide up to her, demanding
to know why Ashara left in such a huff.
“It’s none of your business!” Piroska snapped back in an icy tone.
“Lover’s quarrel, I suppose,” she
said smugly and walked away gingerly smirking to herself, shaking her braless bosom and showing off her white skin through
those stinking long side cuts of her skirt, making the loners at the pub lick their lips with lust. Piroska wondered
what Ashara thought of Kavita? Maybe he did get a royal hard on with women like that. Perhaps she would have given
him more sexual gratification than the frigid Piroska.
As she sat alone
sipping her cola at the Haystack thinking that Yash would arrive at any moment, her mind raced with agony thinking of herself
getting dumped into another shamed wedding. She could not identify herself with this liaison. She never liked
being with Ashara. He was a real big bore who did nothing but boast about his petrochemical outlets.
Piroska hated him because he found her paintings to be leaning on an artificial plane he called them arctic and
far from being near life. He always lamented that her paintings needed more creative passion and were too ordinary and
undersexed. Anyone who ridiculed Piroska’s talents made her delirious, as that was the only creative form that
had kept her away from old memories. She was game for criticism of any kind, but with Ashara his criticism was to tease
her. He never gave her the encouragement that she needed. What frightened her more was when he made statements
like, “I hope you are not going to continue with this passion of yours after marriage.” What did he understand
was that art had become a compulsive obsession for her after her divorce and that she would never give up it so easily.
She needed it to forget her tormented past; this gift embedded into her by God had the need to survive. He had no right
to be hypercritical about her work as he knew absolutely nothing about art, he just loved to make a shallow senseless noise.
The memory of her divorce from Ashok started to make Piroska feel uneasy. She felt
like a tempted rattlesnake that wanted to spit out its venom on the victim. Here, her victim was none other than Ashok,
the man whom she had loved, the man whom she had cared for, and the man who betrayed her! She became aware of going
into a depression. Sweat started to formulate on her forehead. She felt as though someone was trying to reach
out to her. Piroska tried shaking away the fear of the aching grief that still continued to torment her inner soul.
She strived for a year to find a new meaning to life, but her grief was graver than any Greek tragedy.
No therapist could haul her out of her personal tormented hell. Piroska began to hallucinate and an unsustainable
anger began to build inside her, wanting her to scream and crawl like an ant on the floor. She was afraid that her unsound
mind would be capable of making her do macabre things.
Every man she saw
entering the shack made her imagine that it was Ashok. Not able to withhold her depression, her inner agony had surfaced
to an exhausted brink when she flung the coke glass across the table, not thinking of the likely injury to the man sitting
on the opposite table.
She thought she was walking briskly but instead,
she was running on the beach with tears rolling down her face. She picked up a remarkable speed tripping over her loosened
trousers. She was not aware of her sudden streak of madness. Her outrageous panting did not bother her.
She just wanted to leave behind the dark shadows that followed her everywhere she went, like a second skin. People on
the beach stared at her in bewilderment. It was only the possessed who were capable of running in this summer heat,
they thought. Neither the heat, the sweat, nor the people around her made her to stop. Nothing made her ashamed
Piroska looked like a demented woman, her beautiful hair falling
all over her face, her clothes smeared with wet sand, her lips parched like a dried Oasis—one would never have dreamt
that this angel was an upcoming artist. Her exhaustion suddenly reached a peak, her mind transcending into another plane
could not carry her further than this. She fell on the sand howling uncontrollably like an injured hyena whose baby
had been weaned away from her. Her tiredness made her to blank out on the sand. The beautiful nymph looked like
a fish left on the beach to be dried by the sea breeze.
Yash stared at her
death like pallor as he carried her to his beach house, and wondered what could have upset her so much that he wasn’t
aware of. In this state of hers she looked so naïve, like a little shepherdess and he was tempted to bend and kiss her
pathetic lips, but refrained from doing so in case she suddenly woke up.
Piroska’s sudden disappearance from the house had not caused any alarm to Mrs.
Sushmita Bhat, and if anybody at all was disturbed by it was her husband, Suresh Bhat. He was perturbed by the small
note that Piroska left behind, saying that she needed a break from her canvas and paints for a few days. The note gave
no sign of her whereabouts. With a disgusted tone, he said,
“It’s high time Sushmita, that you teach your daughter some responsibilities.
Here, look at this note which has no address of the place that she is visiting. Our daughter’s wings are not yet
clipped. If I have to say a few gentle words, she will not like it a bit. It would be better if you handle her
Bhat kept her silence, she was aware of Piroska’s whims and fancies. Her daughter was old enough to make her own
decisions. As usual, Piroska must have taken off to some sea or mountain resort to bury her disturbed self —to
shake off her depressions of the past that clung onto her like a wicked leech.
husband most of the time did not interfere in any matters of the house. He was totally involved with his granite and
shipping business. Due to his busy schedule he had no time for his wife nor for his only child. He always seemed
to be in an uncouth hurry, attending conferences, parties and signing contracts abroad. He was like a busy bumblebee
seeking nectar in every beautiful budding flower. He took risks and was adventurous in every new deal he made.
It seemed as though he was like a miniature Alexander, building empires at every opportunity he got. Having got himself caught
in the centre of the business web, Suresh Bhat started drifting away from the responsibilities of his home front.
He neglected Piroska, due to which his daughter matured under the assertive shadow of
his wife, and they both shared a very close relationship. They were more friends than child and parent. It was
Sushmita who encouraged Piroska to become independent and made her fully aware of her feminine self. She always told
Piroska, “in this world you have to be educated and self sufficient or else you will have everyone walking all over
you.” Piroska took the advice seriously and launched herself into a world of dreamy colours a world that became
part and parcel of her temporal life.
Suresh never appreciated the idea
of Piroska taking up painting as a full-fledged profession. He always wanted her to join him in the family business.
He was one of those unlucky businessmen who had everything in life but not a son. He never dreamt that Susmita would
sire a daughter, a beautiful one, though, but not useful to him. Somewhere God had miscalculated his happiness.
He brooded about this to his lawyer who understood his sorrow. The old man had three sons, all doing well in America.
“If only I had a son to continue and expand my business dominions,” he would
lament to Mr. Gupta, his old family lawyer, who would nod his bald head in agreement with Suresh.
When Sushmita helped Piroska file for a divorce from Ashok, and when Suresh got to hear of it on the Ivory Coast,
he blew a fuse. He argued with Sushmita and blew his top in a cyclone rage and frustration, but to no avail when Sushmita
didn’t listen to him.
“Get some decent sense instilled in my daughter’s head. What will people say? We’ll
be the talk of the town!” he bawled. He was more bothered about others opinions, than the happiness of his own
child, thought Sushmita. Had this man ever tried to understand his beautiful daughter? Had the father in him ever
tried to analyse the anxieties and conflicts that constantly hammered at her subconscious?
Had the role of the husband ever clicked in him?
Did he ever ponder as to why Piroska needed the support of both her parents and not just one of them? No! He never had…he
saw, ate and dreamt business! How could any man ransom his home and family just for monetary gains?
Suresh’s non-interfering attitude used to infuriate Sushmita, to such an extent that she made it a point
to hurt him with her silence and sharp abrupt answers. She defended her child by saying,
“Piroska has her own personal reasons for leaving
over petty issues, and then seeking a divorce—I don’t approve of it. Walking out of a marriage is not in
keeping with our traditional background. Couldn’t she have tolerated the problems of marriage for some time instead
of getting rid of that boy? Every one has to adjust, Sushmita, try and see some reason,” he pleaded in a defeated
Sushmita had maintained the policy of silence. She seemed to be far away in her thoughts, as her husband
continued with his sundry blabber. He wondered if his wife registered anything that he fumed over. Her deep silence
seemed to be wrapped in an unhappy pensive mood. He guessed right as to what she was thinking: what did this tycoon
understand about women’s emotions and sentiments? He had no values himself, and therefore, he had no right to
demand that Piroska stay committed to her husband. There were times when Sushmita felt repulsed towards Suresh.
He stank like an infected gangrene that needed medication. She planned on a separation from him umpteen times in her
mind, but the conventional binding of a Hindu marriage kept her from taking the crucial decision. She was bound mentally
to a value system that all Indian women hated to associate with. It demanded them to bend down to a dominance that repulsed
them. No one made a hue and cry over it, as it was a system cradled into their bosoms. What status did the Indian
woman have but to be a slave in the role of a daughter, mother or wife? Life would never change for her even if God
recreated Adam and Eve as somewhere a Manu would be hiding, to tell the world that she needs the “blessings” of
a man to survive.
Her husband was touring around Europe for more than six
months with his glamorous lipstick coated secretary cum mistress, when Piroska was found on the streets in a state of mental
shock. She underwent deep psychological injury that needed long continuous treatment by a psychotherapist. She
withered into an ugly flower, her bones sticking out and her facial expressions always disarrayed. She was mauled physically
and mentally and went through a great deal of phobic reactions coupled with substantial psychoneuratic manifestations, due
to which she felt discouraged and rejected for a long period of two years.
never dreamt her bruised child would survive the pain inflicted upon her by Ashok. What hurt Piroska was the callous
manner in which Ashok betrayed her. She still couldn’t get over the fact that a man who adored her could still
find comfort in another woman’s sexual fancies. Were all men the same? Her husband was no better.
The God of “love” surrounded him with all “angels”.
took time for Piroska to vomit out her traumatic state. It had shocked Sushmita when the truth was revealed to her.
Here her husband was, giving lectures on marriage and ethics, when his daughter’s condition had not affected him.
She remembered those sentences spoken across the telephone, and the harshness of the emotions rang in her ears like an enraged
temple bell that just would not stop ringing.
“Give her the best medical aid. I am sorry I cannot rush back, as I have an important contract to
sign.” Sushmita did not want to hear another word. She slammed the receiver with a wild vengeance, which
must have definitely hurt Suresh’s eardrums.
She wept over her husband’s unemotional attitude, he was not like this when they got married. He
changed after he had got involved with Sarah, her best friend…and that was another story.
After Piroska’s emotional drama and seeing the attitude of the uncaring father, Sushmita became determined
to concentrate on her daughter. She kept the reality of her divorce a secret, and spinned a yarn for Suresh.
With the help of a good lawyer, Sushmita got her daughter divorced. Ashok showed
no retaliation towards the legal separation. He pretended as though nothing took place; Sushmita admired his calm and
composure during the court session of signing the papers. It was Piroska who went hysterical when she saw Ashok. She
associated him with the betrayal when he reopened the superficially healed wound, making her return to a state of the temporary
regression syndrome. Whether Piroska wanted him out of her sight or if she still felt emotionally attracted to him,
no one could tell or read her puzzled mind. Sushmita did all she could to help her daughter, she herself knowing what
it was like to lose someone dear. In spite of having a grown-up daughter, she could not forget some of the good times
that she had in her life about twenty years back.
The sunrays squeezed their
way through the transparent windowpane and formed an exquisite square on the marble floor. She took a glass of water
and dropped a few drops on the neat square,-and found the glass beads dancing for sometime and then vanishing. It seemed
as though the raindrops from Sushmita’s eyes had suddenly frozen due to the reluctance of her mind to give in to the
total submission of the past.
A submission of innocent love twined today
by a serpentine hug. A tightness of her soul to experiences which today were out of control. She withered with
grace like a holy blossom into the chill of an autumn end. She still could see the horizons of her dreams, the circumferences
of her fantasies, the visions of lost love. Sushmita shuddered even to think about paving a path into the centre of
these shadowy circles. The tremor within her was worse than the war cry that Kubla Khan heard. It seemed like
the final call from the angel of death on Passover night.
Her whole mind
seemed to have reached an unheard beat of drums. It seemed as though Sushmita’s heart soared among noisy beetles.
These very pleasant moments brought about a feeling of want. A hunger in spite of bitterness tugged at her heart strings.
It yet groaned for those warm sturdy hands, fingers that flipped her curls back, and she missed that blow of hot breath on
her nape. Time seemed to have lulled her mind and she became insensitive to everything. She lived just for Piroska—her
little Red Riding Hood.
It seemed as it had been only yesterday that she
had met him. He looked as though he had joined a monastery as he was wearing a wine red robe. On the green wilderness
of Lasa it seemed as though God had descended blowing rings of smoke into the chilled air. They had been destined to
meet and to remain together forever. Her dreams were dreams of a child playing in the park, of watching a spider spinning
a web, of observing a butterfly sucking nectar—and then everything choked. The swing broke, the spider died, the
flower dried up and time played havoc in their lives.
Sushmita did not realise
how long she sat there on the seat and let the passage of the past whizz by. Her wedding was an arranged one.
She had a traditional conventional marriage ceremony. Suresh was unaware of Sushmita’s dark past. She decided
not to enlighten him, in case the after effects would lead to a broken marriage. A marriage broken before it took place
would be bad for her, especially in the rigid Indian society. She would have had to walk around with a tarnished image.
She had a deep, unforgetful past and a faithful lover, who turned into ash but did not
fade from her memory. It all came back as she sat in front of the French glass windows. It was springtime and
her maiden eyes feasted upon the dichroism of flowers in her garden. Life was filled with colours, and yet it had its
realms of black and grey.
Her mind retraced its path to that dramatic day
of December, when the cold winds at Lasa forced her to close the windows that overlooked into a fully blossomed rose garden.
Through the setting evening darkness, she could inhale the scent of the buds that bloomed into brides the next day.
She began to draw her curtains when she heard the hooting of the wise owl in the oak tree.
“Bad omen,” her grandmother would have spelt
out through her toothless mouth had she been alive. She always dissuaded Sushmita when she took immense interest in
the night prowler, who occasionally seemed to be complaining to the Moon goddess with his hoot.
Yet, she loved the sapient bird for his large marble
eyes that shimmered in the deathly night. They emitted a sparse light that glowed through the sprawling branches of
the oak. He made a fine silhouette with the moonbeams falling on him, surrounding him with a majestic sophisticated
aura, which immensely fascinated her. How silly her grandmother was to think this night watcher was evil. These
old mountain belles still had such strong beliefs that you could not change them.
Sushmita remembered standing at her closed windows,
parting aside the drawn curtains to search for her owl. Her eyes squinted, as she had pressed her face against the glass
pane. It was at this time, that she had been called to the Lasa hospital, and the need to rush there had made her forget
the wise owl.
The hospital looked deserted as she encountered the night
watchman. He was a grisly old chap with grey drooping moustache.
“Visiting hours are over, Madam,” he said, spitting out a fountain of tobacco
juice in one gush on the walls.
“I know,” she shot back, shoving a few coins in his hands and scampered up the stairways before he
could create a scene. She heard him murmuring at the few coins that later jingled with the rest in his pocket.
Sushmita charged down the dimly
lit corridors in search of the general medicine private rooms.
“Third floor,” said a sleepy ward attendant. She found the night nurse
there, nodding her head to sleep. Her white cap fell off her head, and her mouth was slightly open in a smile as if
dreaming of something unconventional. Tired, she seemed to be in her dream world, and Sushmita had no heart to disturb
No. 609,” she heard Raju saying over the telephone. Her nervousness reached its peak when she heard a woman’s
sharp wail, chilling her senses to a stage of numbness. “Oh God! not now!” she prayed aloud. She had
to reach him before “Yama” arrived on the scene. Tears had flowed down like the mighty Godavari, swelling
to wrap its fertile banks in her wrath, blinding her vision as she flung open the door of room no. 609. He felt her
presence, and made an effort to focus his eyes upon her.
She remembered having silently walked towards his bedside and gently placing her head
on his chest. Her tears had soaked through his clothes, and its wetness mingled with his perspiration. A feeble
fragile hand had moved over her head to comfort her. These hands once had been strong, but now they were like a dry
branch that received no nourishment from its roots…limp and powerless they seemed.
Sushmita’s head laid there listening to the faint ticking of his heartbeat. Her eyes could not be
raised to look into the forlorn gaze that had become dull, glazed and dark, sinking into the depth of their sockets, like
a ship wrecked by a sea storm that sank deeper and deeper into the womb of darkness.
He tried holding her face with his languid hands, making her stare into those withdrawn void eyes. She
ran her fingers over his face, wiping away the wetness of misery and fright. He had a long journey to make at any moment.
He mouthed a hoarse whisper telling her that he always loved her. Their tears mingled as she kissed his eyelids meekly
and recalled him telling her that he would not live long. She only laughed with, “you are too young to die, Raj.”
As she sat by his side, she could not will him to survive. There was no hope left,
as he had damaged himself beyond cure. Sushmita had not hoped for a miracle, nor did she hope for one. No mortal
could dream of becoming immorta—as death had been created by man. Every man dreaded it and yet knew it could never
be avoided, as life and death were part of a cycle. It would take man a long time to find the tree of life, in case
he wanted to remain immortal. It would mean a journey into seeking of the self, something that man was not yet capable
of doing. He felt comfortable to live in his superficial world, rather than try to reach out for the truth.
A sudden convulsion sent him into a deep coma for a short span. Sushmita had held him as his warm face
gradually turned cold like a fallen tree branch. Theirs had been a long-lived love story—meeting at Raju’s
house, without a soul knowing about their torrid affair.
walking out of the hospital that night looking worn out, the wind whistling through her tangled hair and its coolness soothing
her aching eyes. A sound far off had made her stand still. She heard a distant mourner and knew that she was not
alone…as the wise owl consoled her with his low hooting.
was none other than Raj’s elder brother and due to this liaison the old one never seemed to have died. A sudden
sharp ring of the telephone got Sushmita back to reality —a rough voice cut across telling her that Piroska would be
back in a day or two. She did not ask for any explanation as Yash told her about her daughter’s illness.
A cough behind her sent a shiver through her body as she panicked. How long had Suresh been standing next to her watching
her lost in her sniffs?
He made no inquiries about her state of mind, as
he came to invite her for a dinner party at the new “Fox and Geese” pub. She refused with the excuse of
having a headache. No comments were made as he walked away feeling sad. He was aware that his wife had not forgotten
his dead brother. The poor lady was under the impression that he knew nothing about it. He knew all along about
the two, his respect for Raj and his legal mate made him preserve the secret. His wife had been no virgin as he had
held her in his arms, where she acted stiff and scared. Her passion for love making gave her away as she guided him
like a trained horse to all the sensual areas of her body, which made her explode and simultaneously act coy while trying
out various positions he liked.
He was aware of the pain inflicted on her
through his affair with Sarah…but to him, his coy mistress was like a snake charmer, swaying him into a world of happiness.
She was very different in all senses. He always liked Sushmita and did not mind getting married to her after his brother
expired, but life at times paves different pathways for different people.
Yash looked at the dumbstruck face of Piroska. It had been three days since she laid in his master bedroom.
His doctor could not figure out the reasons for her depression. He said that she was in a state of mental shock.
Yash wondered what this bubbly belle was suffering from? He had not seen any pain inflicted upon her in Goa, as his
agents had not let her out of their sight ever since they met.
if what he did to her two days back was the cause of this fainting fit? Whatever he did to her was out of sheer anger.
He was no bastard, as he legally carried his father’s surname. If she got upset over such a small issue, then
he could do nothing about it. He just had to wait for her to open her eyes and talk some sense. Another thought
flashed by—could she have got offended because he had pushed her aside when she had wanted him to make love to her?
She did come on strongly to him that night and was behaving as though some spell had been cast on her. Well, he grinned to
himself all these pretty girls had the hots for him.
She seemed to be suffering
from mysterious fears unknown to him. Her face seemed as though her inner soul was ramshackled. Her lily fair
breasts sagged as in sympathetic depression. Her eyes, which got illuminated like a fertile spring meadow, looked barren
like the Autumn moon. Her skin, which glowed like the morning dawn, seemed struck by a desert storm. She tossed and
turned in her sleep and Yash could not perceive the anger that reigned within her. Her silent tears made her pale with
fear and her nightmares shook her body like a destructive earthquake.
no account did Yash leave her side, as he realised this wasn’t a physical illness, but something psychological and right
now what she needed was comfort and security. She seemed to have been betrayed and there lay a confusion of truth and
lies within, which Yash felt she was trying to shoulder off. Whatever she was suffering or encountering in her subconscious,
it was a kind of neurotic depression. Yash wanted her to bounce back to life, and he saw to it that she did not sink
into it any further.
Yash knew that when people suffered from acute depressions,
some had the tendency to commit suicide. Seeing her state, he wondered if this mortal being had tried venturing into
death. She didn’t seem the kind to do so. The doctor advised no hospitalisation for this weakness of the
nerves but had directed Yash how he should deal with this trauma. “Have patience with her,” he said.
Piroska woke up and just stared at him, and her placid face did not even break into a
smile. An effort was made to get her into a conversation about paintings and landscapes to which she showed no interest.
She remained glum and gloomy like an old dug-out grave. At times he felt like shaking her hard, to feel her bones rattling,
and making her weep till she vomited out all her bottled up sorrows. This woman did not understand the kind of craving
he had for her. He loved her from the time Sushmita Bhat made him an agent for selling Piroska’s paintings.
Apart from having an extensive garment business, he was an art dealer who promoted all young artists. He saw the talent
in Piroska’s brush, the eye for colours and the adventurous attitude of exploring the hidden side of nature. Her
paintings were always sold for high prices, and her exhibitions left the spectators wide-eyed with the kind of experimentation
she carried out with paints. Piroska had no idea who Yash was as she left the intricacies of her professional dealings
to her mother.
When Yash had telephoned Mrs.Bhat and narrated Piroska’s
illness, the lady became hysterical but then realising her foolishness she told him, “Don’t send her back till
she recovers.” Yash wondered why she had panicked. “She suffers from acute anxiety attacks and her pills
are in her hand bag,” Mrs.Bhat informed him. No other details were given to him as to why such things took place.
Sushmita was a good friend of his, yet what made her keep some secrets he did not know.
For Yash the behaviour of Sushmita left him puzzled, he expected the lady to rush down to Goa to be with her
daughter but instead she gave him advice over the telephone and slammed the phone down. Was there something wrong with
this girl that he was not aware of? Sushmita always made it a point to keep him informed about Piroska’s progess
and love to do an extra bit of chatter about her pretty daughter.
stared at the ceiling as her mind eased out of its tensions. She felt ashamed of herself for going into this hysterical
state of mind. Hadn’t she undergone a therapy for repression to push back all her anxieties into her subconscious?
Hadn’t she nearly succeeded in forgetting those unpleasant memories, then why suddenly did she go so berserk?
She could not even think of looking straight into Yash’s eyes as he had done a favour by taking care of her—a
stranger whom he had met only for a few hours.
She admired him for not questioning
her about her illness, but at the same time another fear existed, had she mumbled her sorrows in her sleep? Was that
why he did not intrude into her distressed self? She did not even make an effort to ask him as to how she got to this
house. She was aware of the fact that she charged out of the Haystack running as if Lucifer was after her and then blanked
out. Piroska let her thoughts drift into a deep sleep. She slipped into a swirl of mist that hid her days of turbulence,
her foggy brain felt as though it were getting unfurled over the sea edge. She slept peacefully, dreaming about the
newly washed skies, where black clouds paved the way for white ones. She dreamt about the wild mountain berries not
yet harvested by the Billy goats. She fantasised about the small green shrubs that caressed her when she strolled through
the fresh green fields, she felt the wetness of the grass lick her exposed white toes. So obsessed was she in the world
of nature, that she had to descend from it with a loud shriek when she felt something wet on her face.
What she saw was a huge Labrador with his paws on her chest and his friendly brown eyes dancing with excitement
get off the bed,” Yash commanded, but the dog paid no heed to his master’s voice, and continued nuzzling his wet
nose into her coal black tresses.
“Looks like my dog has taken a liking for you,” he said, with a lopsided grin that made Piroska’s
love animals,” she declared, burying her face into Burg’s huge soft silky face.
“Not their masters, I assume.” He
received no reply for that. Piroska just glanced at him in a vague manner. What did this man know about her feelings
for him? She wanted to be in his arms, and to crush him to her body. She only kept away because she had a binding,
a damn social contract that she wanted to break away from—but how? She didn’t know. The urge to hold
him became so strong that she could not control her physical need even if it meant getting kicked aside for her immoral behaviour.
This whole scene in front of her seemed like a romantic Mills and Boon tale.
As Yash leant across her to straighten out her pillows, she just pulled him towards her,
“Kiss me, Yash,”
she bellowed like a cow. He looked straight into those vixen eyes and his lips came thundering down upon hers.
His fingers slid down, unbuttoning her shirt buttons, and his hands slid to find the warmth of her supple skin underneath.
His hands were steady as he held her perfect breast in his hands. He saw those gentle eyes glimmering with a different
want, and her body relaxed as he played with her brown nipples. She held him tight, wanting urgently to feel his hardness,
and with a slow ease she gave him soft butterfly kisses, which began from his throat and rested upon his navel. She
let her tongue roll into its depth and he groaned pushing her head lower. He tore her shirt out, and she showed no reaction
as he pushed her back onto the pillows, stretching out her hands and sucking at her armpits. She loved his wetness on
her fevered body, and he forced her to give everything she had to him.
they rustled their naked bodies, her swollen breasts purring roughly against his body, his hands moved down swiftly and took
possession of what he thought was his. She did not retaliate as she felt the force of his desire mingling with hers.
Her body quivered with piercing excitement, as both climaxed together. He kissed her gently as he rolled off her.
They lay beside each other, not ashamed of their deeds. As he lit a cigarette, he turned Piroska’s face towards
him. “Will you marry me?” he asked humbly. He saw a sudden fear come across her eyes, and they seemed to
be screaming in a voiceless horror, as if viewing a nightmare. He bundled her back into his arms, comforting her with
a warmth that she always had been yearning for after her divorce. Yash did not propose to her again, he let her sleep,
watching those tender closed eyelids. He was aware that he had to part with her tomorrow. She had to return back
to the mountains to her paints brushes and easel . If he wanted to delay her he could have – but no, the girl
was creative and was reaching her peak of fame in the art world. He had no intentions of cutting short her inborn talents.
Yash sighed a painful sigh as he saw the engagement ring on her finger. Did she really love this guy whom she was going
to marry? Ashara seemed like such a pansy to him. The passion that she emitted sometime back showed something else.
Was this act of love making an outlet for her frustrations? Women, they were a difficult brand to understand!
Piroska’s snooze seemed to be a peaceful one and Yash did not cause any interruptions
to wake her up as she huddled closer to him like a fetus in a mother’s womb. He saw the expressionless face that
was devoid of feelings. He nudged her gently but instead of waking up, she snuggled closer to him. He embraced
her tenderly for sometime, knowing that he was going to miss her. He watched her laziness waning out, and her hands
reaching out to glide over his belly and clasping his sceptre of power, she asked him to make love to her again. He
could not help getting turned on, as she took the initiative of exploding her mouth on him captivating his. She pressed
hard onto his lips like a steamy hot oven that needed to blow apart. She entwined her limbs around him like an octopus.
“Yash, make love to me,
so that I’ll never forget you.” she said in an urgent voice.
glided into her like a slow flowing river holding tightly to her belaboured bottoms.
“Yash, my Yash “ she said, panting like
a thirsty bitch on the bed. She knew that they made a romantic couple and people could envy their togetherness.
They continued making love till the wee hours of the morning. They clung onto each other as they had only a few hours
left. Piroska’s tiredness tranquillised her into a deep sleep. Next morning, she woke up to an empty bed—with
a huge bunch of red opium flowers at her bedside. A note read:
“Bye, Piroska, my angel. Andrew, my driver will see you to the station.”
She suddenly became afraid,
as she had no idea if she would meet Yash again. How did she manage to fall in love with a stranger and allow him to
make love to her? Yet she felt that he ideally suited her. Man sometimes makes mistakes, here it was no mistake
as she was fatally attracted to him. She did not feel guilty for having betrayed Ashara, the thought of him made her
giddy. Why couldn’t she just go back to Lasa and tell her parents that she had no interest in Ashara. She
was afraid of her father’s wrath, this marriage was to enrich his coal mine deals and she had been chosen the scapegoat.
Maybe one day [she hoped not] her father would even auction her out as the prize possession of the house, and Piroska shuddered
at that. The concept of this arranged marriage did not suit her nor did she have the courage to rebel against her father.
She was totally washed out with the failure of her first marriage.
Piroska felt that she was spineless, as she crawled on the earth like a slimy earthworm having no choice but to depend upon
her surroundings. One breakdown in her life changed her whole personality and meeting one deadly Casanova, she wanted
to melt like an iceberg. She smiled at the thought of Yash and felt herself to be a complex person. What she wanted
in life she didn’t know?
She did look forward to going back to Lasa,
as she had left many painting orders unfinished. The next few months she would be dipping herself into oil paints and
water colours. The world of colours always made her transcend to a higher spiritual plane of expression. Art in
its own form enriches your soul. Her paints always made her forget her psychological problems as she totally devoted
herself to her canvas, not thinking about the past nor of the future, but making her live only for the present. Art
for Piroska was a question of life and death, it was a passion created in paradise by God Almighty. She did not think painting
to be a catharsis, but an expression that oozed from the best side of her. Her inspiration came from reality. Nature
spoke to her through paints. It left her with a calm sense of joy and an inner fulfilment.
on the Lasa Mountain slopes where the fading mist hung all around, wetting her soft oval face. She felt its moisture
on her bare feet, which were surrounded by tiny red, purple and yellow wild flowers. They glowed among the dew washed,
uneven green grass. She saw an eagle descending on its prey with great speed, and as it glided down, it gave a high
pitched screech warning the others of its royal presence. Piroska had always admired his dominant presence in the blue
sky, sometimes calling out to its estranged mate and at times flying like Icarus close to the sun.
She made herself comfortable on the damp grass, her buttocks feeling sorry for crushing the beauty of nature
underneath her. She drew her knees towards her chest, blushing unconsciously at the thought of him. If only he
had imaginary wings to reach her. Why could she not forget his presence? Why did he hesitate to walk triumphantly into
her heart? What was she compromising on? Why was it always she who got dragged into dirty slush—making her own life
miserable? There were so many questions about her after the divorce that she could not answer. Her whole system
of confidence faded out. She left the answers for destiny to tackle. Whatever has to happen, will happen! She
would face it.
As she sat in great thought, plucking at the wet grass, her
mind was contemplating whether she should continue thinking of Yash. Why was it a crime to think about another man,
when she would be getting married to someone else? She tried to analyse the concept of attraction—there was no
harm in admiring someone mentally or was there? She pondered over this thought for sometime. Why did we impose
the stink of morality upon ourselves? Weren’t there times when you got attracted to others unknowingly?
Wasn’t it human nature to admire the best in the other? This was happening everywhere in offices, clubs and homes.
Did it not happen to her father? In her case she was not attached to anyone legally, so thinking of someone was no sin.
As in her case she could not remove the image of Yash from her mind, his intense gaze made her stomach churn, his penetrating
looks had made her forget Ashara all together. Both were men, but one had to stand out from the other.
There wasn’t anything physically wrong with Ashara, he lacked the dynamism that
Yash possessed. Piroska had found Ashara to be very dottish, and most of the times they could not see eye to eye.
He always whined like an injured dog, when she put off a date to finish a canvas. At times Piroska felt that he pretended
to be possessive, especially when men from the world of art praised her for the magic created on the canvas and when they
took time discussing certain issues. At such times he would slip his hand around her waist when she spoke to other men
while Piroska had the urge to shove him aside. She hated his over bearing attitude in the company of others, which made
her feel small and ridiculous. He was an irritating pest and yet she was forcing herself to tie the holy knot.
Her mind blanked out whenever she tried to think this problem out to its logical conclusion.
Piroska’s distant thoughts were broken by the glow of the morning sun. Its bright rays pierced the
transparent mist quickly, drying the dampness around her. She felt relaxed as the warmth of the immature rays tugged
at her lethargy. For many of the tribal folks the sunrise brought about redemption of the soul, as one considered the
Sun to be God, and they believed that the coming in of light was like booing away the night’s spirits that everyone
was afraid of. Each one looked up to the Sun as a mighty force having power and showering an invisible kind of security
on mankind. The very fact that one could not gaze for long into his eyes showed his overwhelming strength. Piroska
had once presented the Sun in the female form in her paintings and had enjoyed the criticism provoked by her imagination.
The question always arose, why the FEMININE form? Piroska used to feel pleased for disturbing the mind of her male clients
and critics. Sometimes she felt as though she was undressing their hurt egos. Why should anything powerful be
associated with the opposite sex? She was no feminist but at times had a thought for such feelings. She found
nothing wrong to think differently. The heat of the sun made her realise that she had to return to her house in the
valley, a home that had given her shelter during her happy and unhappy days, a place that pushed her ahead to survive—to
live for the present and to forget her past.
She wore her leather moccasins
and trekked down the unruly manmade pathway. Her hands lazily snuggled into her loose denim Bermudas. The winding
track ahead of her looked like a skinned python, and it seemed as if it was sunbathing in the morning sunlight. The
mountain air was fresh, and its gentle movements tied knots in her long black tresses. Her gait quickened as the pathway
steepened, making her breathless and raising her cheeks to the colour of corals. She thoroughly enjoyed her early morning
walks and after her illness it had become an everyday exercise, as up there among the bees, beetles, crickets, the flowers
and the berries, she forgot the world of personal miseries. It was a place where all the rusty memories that hung onto
her like a grotesque paperweight slipped aside.
On her way down she met
Bi, the local shepherd with his flock of sheep, who scampered so easily on the rocky mountain slopes. Piroska loved
their rough fur, and always lifted the little lambs to be kissed. Bi was around fifteen years old and he knew the mountainside
on the tip of his fingers. He normally helped her to carry her canvas and easel to unexplored spots and watched with
fascination as she transferred the beauty on to the canvas. He gave her a wide impish grin, and Piroska rubbed his coarse
hair lovingly as he passed by. Apart from helping Piroska, he ran errands for her mother earning a few extra coins to
buy himself some sticky candy floss. He looked around wherever he was. Piroska passed the bazaar, which had just
stirred from its long sleep. She loved Lasa for everything.
reached her palacious house, which had a sprawling garden, Piroska noticed her mother, who with great concentration was keeping
an eye on the white side gate. On seeing her daughter, Sushmita Bhat waved frantically in her direction, and sounded
her regular dialogue as she kissed her daughter’s warm cheek.
“You are late, I have been worrying about your whereabouts,” she said.
Her mother loved her immensely
and after the divorce the bond had become even stronger. Piroska could never forget those days of pain, and how supportive
her mother had been. Two years had passed and yet the wound needed only a little irritation to bleed. Some things
you can never forget, no matter how hard you try. Echoes of the past lingered somewhere in her mind, trying to surface
when given a chance. Though Piroska tried to keep her memories unsurfaced like the derge in a wine bottle, they got
mingled with the clear liquid. She sighed—such was life.
flashing silence was broken in by Pluto, her favourite cocker spaniel, who jumped in her lap when he saw her. He licked
Piroska’s face as she hugged and cuddled him to her body. Many a times in her loneliness she spoke her heart out
to this dumb animal, and it seemed as though he understood her. She noticed that he was always by her side whenever she was
in those dull moods. There had been times when she used to weep, and this adorable companion used to lick her salty
face and whine along with her misery. Her mother gave him to her as a gift on her twenty-second birthday and now she
comes your cousin Menaka,” her mother said. Menaka was a real giddy woman of thirty, unmarried and lived life
king size a great chatterbox. She came to Lasa to spend her winter holidays from Bangalore. Piroska decided to
avoid her, but her cousin caught up with her usual.
“Hi Piroska, enjoy your walk? Did you meet anyone interesting?”
She said in one sly breath.
“Yes, I did, Bi, and his flock of sheep!” Piroska noted the grin on her cousin’s face,
when she heard that. Being a romantic by nature she was all out to get her married soon, though for her the institute
of marriage was humbug. She preferred the live in relationships with no legal commitments. She was used to falling
in and out of relationships. Her life was very different from that of Piroska who believed in long lasting bonds.
For her cousin every new lover was God sent. She loved the company of men and knew when to whimper when she needed them,
compared to her Piroska felt like a nun. Men made her sick and she had a reason to be like that. Keeping Ashara
company itself was an extra effort made from her side.
Before the deal with
Ashara had been struck, her mother always wished that some prince charming would come and find Piroska’s glass shoes.
Piroska protested strongly against her mother’s wishes of a second marriage.
“No one will marry a divorcee and Ma, I am not prepared for another marriage.”
The talk of marriage itself used to upset Piroska, and Sushmita had decided that her daughter should be left alone on these
thoughts. Maybe a time would arrive in the future when Piroska herself would decide to get married. She understood
that marriage was not just a physical binding, it was psychological too. Piroska’s trust in both had been jilted,
due to which she refused to talk about the topic.
Excusing herself from
Menaka, she hurried into the security of her bedroom for a hot shower. She normally strolled out in the nude after her
bath and creamed her long limbs, sitting erect in front of her long antique Belgium mirror. Her reflection stared back
at her; she was beautiful with a fair tanned complexion. An oval face, brown eyes that matched her tinted black hennaed
hair, her hands felt her long nape, and caressed her slender, slim shoulders that balanced her curvaceous figure. She
held her pear-shaped breasts in her hand, and felt its nipples get hardened at her own touch. Her body was explosive
and erotic; she had firm buttocks, which Yash had caressed gently. The thought of Yash now made her body shift colours.
She wondered if he remembered her. Why should he, as they were many strange women with whom he could sleep around.
She rated herself among one of them. She was sure that he thought of her to be cheap and fast. But then why did
he ask her to marry him, she wondered.
Her reverie was disturbed by Menaka,
calling her down for breakfast. Piroska could not follow the last sentence of her cousin, which had something to do with flowers.
Piroska quickly pulled on her tight jeans with an electric blue shirt, brushed her hair till it shone and dashed downstairs.
She nearly buckled on the last step when she saw Bi standing with a huge bunch of yellow opium flowers near the doorway.
“Piroska, missey, someone
gave this to you.”
me?” her voice sounded hysterical. Oh God! Please don’t let Yash be around. He did not know about
her engagement and he would unnecessarily create trouble for her. Before she could ask Bi for any description, Sushmita
Bhat encountered them.
what pretty flowers!” she exclaimed with delight.
“I saw them on the mountain and requested Bi to have them picked for me.”
Piroska quickly lied to avoid any form of suspicion.
“On the Lasa Mountain, these I haven’t seen before,” her mother said
saw her daughter’s expressions suddenly change. Since Piroska had returned from Goa, she seemed to be in a romantic
trance, and these flowers surely had something to do with Goa. Had Piroska met a man? If at all she had, wasn’t
she aware that she was stepping into a coal pit? Was it Yash? But Yash was fifteen years older than her daughter.
Not that she would have minded the relationship, as Yash was dynamic and mature. Sushmita Bhat put aside her thoughts
and tried to scan the Lasa Mountains in her mind. She was familiar with every crevice in the mountain, and no where
had she seen these flowers that she was sure about. She loved wild flowers more than the ones grown in the garden.
She used to force Raj to go orchid picking in the Lasa forests, and he thought she was crazy. These flowers, which Bi
had held in his hands, she had never seen in the mountains. How come they suddenly bloomed?
If Piroska had met someone of her choice, then why was she keeping it a secret from her? Had she lost her confidence
in her own mother? This thought made Sushmita doleful. She herself was not as fond of Ashara as she had been of
Ashok, as both the men were so different. If Piroska did not speak her mind and if she bottled up her thoughts and wishes,
no one could help her out. She decided that her daughter could solve her own problems and decided not to interfere.
She left Bi and Piroska to their own conversation.
“Bi, who got them?” She whispered to the nervous boy who kept shifting his glances towards
the door from where Sushmita left.
“I don’t know, missey—my father told me to give them to you. Can I go?” and he
scurried out of the doorway.
Piroska placed the flowers in her room so that it wouldn’t undergo any speculation. Menaka would
wean a love story out of it. Why was Yash doing this? To put her thoughts away she decided to finish her incomplete
canvas at the den. Her mother bought her a small den just for her to relax and paint. It was one of those three-room
cottages away from everyone. It was surrounded by trees and was very cosy. At times she got so engrossed with
her canvas that she forgot to return home. This was one place no one visited, except for Bi, who came when she wanted
to paint an outdoor view.
Piroska was a gifted artist and she indulged in
water colours, oil paints, and sometimes tried her hand at charcoal sketches. Her work had the tendency to evoke the
inner sensibility of the mountains. They had a spiritual sentimentality reflecting the inner psyche of nature.
Whoever laid their eyes on her canvas could smell the freshness of the mountain air, feel the dizzy clouds and the dewy valley.
Her perceptions were very accurate—whether she caught a toad near a flowing brook, saw some bushy shrubs glistening
with dew drops, or saw some ebbing stream of the clouds kissing the mountain tops and the cleavage of its deep valley—every
image of hers beheld a mature passion of life and death. She used combinations that were unusual. The pictures
came from within, her mind spoke out on the canvas, her work had a touch of romantic imagination and there was a freshness
of colour and a new-born energy.
Piroska never indulged in abstract modern
art, because the concept of the abstract seemed absurd to her. What she basically relied upon was beauty. She
wanted her spectators to feel the truth of God’s creation, which held a concrete dimension to man’s life.
Wasn’t the cycle of nature associated with that of man? We are so interrelated that one could not be away from
the other. Apart from painting landscapes, she used to indulge in images of the sea.
Her next exhibition that she was planning to hold was of thirty canvases relating to the sea. She wanted
to bring forth the idea that the sea had various images while conversing with man. She wanted to paint water as the
creative and the destructive force. She had the wish to bring alive the image of the murmuring waves, the logical frequency
of the tides, the sea in general suckling at the bosoms of mother earth. Piroska loved everything about the sea, the
gloomy and the radiant side, the mysterious side of it that no one dared to trespass, its mystical side, which made one fantasise
about sea horses, mermaids, and sea goddesses. Her last escape to the sea side was out of anger and also to capture
the sea surface, but instead of thinking of white bubbly frothy bubbles, sea gulls, sea shells and crabs, she got herself
wooed by a sea God, who managed to seduce her in no haste.
If at all she
had to be grateful for her success in the art world, she owed it to her mother, who had made her persevere and had seen her
daughter go through mental torture, divorce and an immature abortion. Piroska had seen her mother go through a similar
phase yet her mother helped her survive. It took months for those dark days to see a sun beam, it took hours of patience
to bring back the sparkle on her face, until her mother got back the sharpness of the falcon in her eyes. All this took
time with the help of a psychologist. The insecurity that Piroska felt was regulated back to normal, but at times the
past did swallow her back into the depth of reality. She could not throw a dark blanket covering the fact that she had
suffered mental and physical injury. Whenever she felt low she visited her psychologist, who introduced new methods
to forget her past. She had advised Piroska to make an effort to forget the past.
Sitting with blue paint on her brush, Piroska felt ashamed for not telling her mother about Yash. What
could she tell her mother? That she rolled into bed with a man whom she had met only for a day, and she loved the way
he rubbed and pressed his lips on her moist, warm, rose-petaled lips, and how he left her limp and gasping. Would her
mother get shocked at her adventurous bout of passion? Piroska wondered. On the other hand, may be her mother
would understand her, as the concept of love itself was so divine. After having tasted the forbidden fruit, you would
understand your physical urges. After her divorce Piroska did not indulged in sex, and masturbation did not get her
so much fulfilment. Piroska was aware that her mother was upset with her secretive nature.
After witnessing the opium flower episode, Sushmita Bhat was pacing her bedroom balcony. She seemed like
a disturbed lioness agitated with her estranged cub. Piroska become her prized possession after her husband got hooked
with Sarah. She understood her husband’s temptation for the voluptuous slut, whose body was made for the bed.
She could never forgive Suresh for cheating on her behind her back.
was disturbed at the present moment by Piroska’s behaviour. Did she not always have time and patience for Piroska?
Had she not been supportive to every weakness of her daughter? Hadn’t they shared many secrets in the past?
Then why was Piroska lying to her? She accepted the fact that at times their temperaments did clash, but didn’t
Piroska realise that her mother had no one to fall back on except a disturbed child? Tears flowed down her sorrowful
face. She wished that Raj had not died so suddenly. Her love was going at a tangent with her daughter and Sushmita
was afraid. Consoling herself, she felt that she was pushing Piroska heavily against the wall, her daughter needed time
to come and confide to her. At the same time with this confused mind Sushmita felt that she misunderstood her daughter
somewhere in her thoughts. Was it not possible for any woman to go on a wild goose chase? Not that it was impossible,
but she doubted Piroska’s confidence in indulging with a stranger. Her total involvement with Ashok for those
eight months had left her devoid of emotions. Ashok, what a man he was? Complexes of all kinds existed in this
man’s world. He thought he was Oedipus, the son of Laius, and thought Manasi to be Jocasasta. He became
blind to a love that left him desolate and forsaken and in the bargain had made her daughter suffer. Piroska was her
only child and the poor girl had to go through such mental agony.
stationed the pillow between his legs, and lay reclined on his spacious bed. Ahead on the wooden mantelpiece stood an
antique glass photo frame that held a recent photograph of his father and the Madonna. He carried a similar one in his
wallet, the size being smaller, of course.
His eyes loomed heavily upon
those familiar soft metallic eyes of the woman he loved—his charismatic demigoddess—his Madonna. It was
the intimate face of a shy lamb whose penetrating gaze made blood rush into his bones and muscles, her coyness, her pastoral
freshness reached out to him, rocking his body into an erotic sexual delight. The pleasures had varied from childhood
The doormat of the house she was, doing her household duties
contentedly, pretending to live up to the name of a successful mistress, enjoying a respectable position in the house and
in the business. Whatever she may be, to him she blossomed like a spiritual divinity, satisfying others mentally—and
him mentally and physically. She had an aesthetic touch that showered an uncontrollable hail of eroticism on him, which
was unintentionally programmed.
His eyes closed, positioning her compassionate
comforting face in his memory—a severe aching tugged at his heart. He wanted to lay his head on her flocculent thighs,
as he always did, where her motherly fingers caressed his hair or massaged his shoulder blades in a soothing manner when he
got back tired from office. At times he behaved naughty by arching his cheeks to her heaving breasts, which went up
and down giving him an elevated feeling. Once he had turned gratuitously and kissed her protruding opiated fullness,
and she sighed, returning a low husky laugh to his action and shoved his face away.
were times when he tried to remain nonplussed in her presence and she would take the initiative of roving her hand on his
neck and gently massaging his chest in an affectionate manner. He wondered if she understood the kind of startling melodramatic
current that she was passing on to him. He couldn’t control the tightness in his pants every time she touched—if
she noticed, it was confirmed by her saintly bewitching smile.
As he lay
with his eyes shut, he knew he could not share his fantasies with his friends. They would call him a pervert or would
tell him that he suffered from an Oedipus complex. His godly fancies had to be a guarded secret from other men who lurked
around with lusty eyes at her celestial contours.
He abhorred those yearning,
alien Herculean men licking their tongues greedily on seeing her—after all, she belonged to him as he had a life-long
sexual binding with her. He respected her as a motherly divine force, and yet his inner self felt guilty when his hunger
wanted to smother her, pump her into never-ending orgasms, make her suck him, till she glowed like the goddess Helicon, make
him greedily arch on her like a potent pyramid that suppressed the Pharaoh’s womb under its strength.
She played the role of mother earth, her fertility only possible if the seed sowed into her germinated.
Her prolific territory he had seen many times, being examined by manicured hands, maybe admiring the tightness of her skin.
She used to rove her polished fingers over her field of productive exploits, she squeezed her hanging breasts that were ripe
and needed to be possessed. Her stomach was like an uneven meadow that needed steady mowing.
He wished her hands were his, he would explore every bit of her body giving her a titillating arousal.
He would have ventured upon her earthly body in a demonic fashion, bringing about a high voltage of climatic release.
She possessed him like the magic of the witchcraft, her sexual ceremonial laments, her
exploits of love, her husky laughter, her autumnal coloured skin, her halo of virtues troubled him galore. His violent
love for his fertile being, for the giver got a vigorous shudder between his legs, it made him open his dreamy eyes to face
the corn mother sheepishly as he allowed the spring of life to wet his bed.
was the dark mother of his dreams, of his passion, of his unrequited longing, of his burgeoning love. He would carry
her deep inside his heart, deep in his loins, full fleshed like the monsoon earth forever fruitful. He would carry her
with him wherever he went—out into the jostling crowds of life filled with the fragrance of women. In everyone
he met he would search for her, the dark goddess of his past. In some he found a trace—maybe a way of smiling,
touching, speaking, caring, just loving or an aura, but far from her, far from the real HER.
What if he found her? What if he discovered another HER? Would she be a person in her own right or
just a reflection of the past, a past he couldn’t get rid of. And when he touched her body, smelling of wild grass
and hill and herbs, would he become a child again, entranced by the black magic of her love, or would he be exorcised, or
He had let the future take care of itself. But for now,
the wet fragrance of love fills the room like the aroma of belonging. Deep in the hot fleshy womb of his life, she lies
asleep like a colossus, with a quiet smile on her face. At rest—and slowly, very slowly, when the yearning grows
again in the centre of his being and spreads an aching warmth across his body, he’ll stir her awake to fill his world
again. The corn-mother. The goddess. The forgiver. The lover. The friend. The only link
he has with his darkness is his soul. The only link with his past was his presence. He, the son of the earth,
a man of the earth, the flesh of the earth. She, the mother. What divine or human being could tear him away from
had to shut off the shower abruptly when the doorbell shrieked through my silent bungalow. There could be just one visitor
for me at midnight, the boy next door. I draped my satin overall on my semi-wet body and hurried to answer the doorbell.
It continued to ring till I reached the door and opened it. Ashok, as usual, stood at my doorstep, giving me one of his odd
casual grins. He looked so easy with his cream slouchy loose trousers and a navy blue shirt.
“Madam, I have some interesting news for you,”
he said, making himself comfortable on my unconventional couch. I perked my eyebrows at the urgency of the news.
“Couldn’t you have
waited till morning?”
“No Madam, I have just returned from Lasa.”
“Lasa, that magnificent village situated on the mountains. What did you go
there for? They don’t not grow spice in those regions.”
He gave me a non-specific grin and said, “I’m getting married to a girl from
I shot out off my cosy position like a black panther that had heard a gun shot. This man must be insane, my mind screamed.
“What does your mother
have to say?”
doesn’t seem to be happy and laments that I’ll regret it.”
“What do you have to say?”
“When my aunt showed me the photograph of Piroska, I fell for her. On meeting
her my heart never seemed to stop stumbling.”
My mind was in an uproar, not because I was unhappy with the liaison, as I loved Ashok
not from the lovers point of view, (as many thought us to be) but as a friend. We were early morning joggers and next
door neighbours. The difference in age was seven and yet we had become thick pals. We both loved art and that
was what kept us together. Something else distressed me. I lived alone in my house, he with his mother, Manasi.
Manasi and I shared a cordial relationship, tinkling wine glasses at common parties,
or holding garden chats while pruning our respective plants in our garden. Also, there were times when she paid a visit to
my ceramic pottery outhouse, where I spent my time painting on the earthen pots. On the other hand, Ashok, being a businessman,
got me clients and agents to take care of my pots. He was a genuine critic of my work and made blunt remarks if I took
a wrong combination of colours. Ashok loved art and attended almost all the exhibitions held in the city by famous artists.
He spent a lot of money buying originals works of painters. He placed them in his office or at home and sometimes, feeling
generous, he presented it to his close friends. Money never stayed for long with him. He was a generous boy, always
helping people around him.
Manasi as a woman I disliked, as she held a grudge
against Ashok for being my friend. I was aware that she thought that we were sharing something more than a platonic
relationship, as many a time Ashok slept at my place when he was too drunk to go home.
“Madam,” he broke into my thoughts, “are
you thinking about my Madonna?” I just stared at him, unable to comprehend as to what was ticking in his mind.
He continued speaking out, “some day, I have to give her up. It is going to be difficult to share Piroska with
her. I got bound to her sexually at the age of fifteen, when she taught me what lovemaking was all about. I told
you about that before. Piroska will find it confusing at first, but with time she will understand my relationship with
the umbilical cord.
Piroska, I felt, would be more shocked than anything
else. No woman would enjoy sharing her husband with another woman, that too, with your own Madonna. You had your
own dignity and self respect, and Ashok seemed to ignore the trouble ahead of him. I thought of reasoning it out with
him, after all, what were friends for?
“Ashok, I think you’re committing a grave mistake. You’re destroying someone’s
life. You know, you can not free yourself from your Madonna’s clutches, you suffer from a hangover where she is
concerned.” I thought he would think over my words, but no—instead he just tried to justify himself with
“Come on, madam, I think
I can manage. I have made up my mind on this marriage. I’ll find a way to keep my mother at bay. I
can’t let go of a damsel like Piroska. Wait and see, you’ll love her yourself.” I didn’t
agree with his ramblings, and yet wanted myself to understand him, and he in return wanted me to comment on his method of
escapism, which I could not bring myself to do.
I was not being conventional
by finding Ashok’s oedipal complex an abnormality, as each individual had the tendency to divert from his usual path
of life. In the case of Ashok, his Madonna had to be blamed. What seriously seemed to bother me was the situation
he was brewing up for another woman, and a difficult one to get along with. This complex was a hidden secret that was
confided to me in trust. Many women pursued him for his money, intelligence and looks. Every time a relationship
would form, Manasi tore it apart like a famished vulture. She did not find her personal immorality unsettling, and it
gave her some kind of crude pleasure to see her son unhappy. She had tried many a times to bulldoze our relationship
by dissuading Ashok from meeting me, but he seemed not to have given in to her pressure, and from then on, she did not interfere
with our friendship.
He shared a close relationship with me especially,
after telling me how his Madonna seduced him in her drunken state, calling out to her dead husband. From then on, his Madonna
became a strong obsession, and every woman he met he tried to find the characteristics of Manasi in her. He said, though
Piroska did not resemble his Madonna, something about her ran parallel to her. He could not analyse what it was.
After a couple of drinks, when Ashok had left my house, I leaned against my cushion covers
a disturbed woman. I suddenly became afraid for the stranger. I had the urge to intervene by informing Piroska
secretly that she was entering into a lion’s den. Manasi would mentally torture her and Piroska would go into
a depression. My womanly instincts raced to protect the unwed woman, but it was not the done thing. If I interfered
indirectly and broke the marriage, Piroska would be into deep trouble. The Indian psyche would blame Piroska and not
Ashok. I felt a sudden pang of love for the stranger. There seemed no way to convince Ashok; he seemed to be mesmerised
by Piroska’s beauty. At the same time, I felt that he may be able to handle the situation between his Madonna
and his wife, and I kept my fingers crossed for a positive marriage. At such times I wished I were a witch, waving my magic
wand and saving dramatic situations.
There were times when I felt like throttling
Manasi, and yet felt pity for the widow. She was foolish for not getting married again, when she had so many business
contacts. I wondered what kind of a lust tempted her to seduce her own blood, and make herself a fixation for him, which
he found difficult to dismantle. I was aware that Ashok would never be able to draw boundaries between Piroska and Manasi,
and to balance two legal relationships would be difficult for him.
I could not attend Ashok’s wedding but heard from friends that it was great.
When I returned from Bangalore after holding my pottery exhibition, Ashok and Piroska had already left for their honeymoon
to Greece for a month. I was glad that the couple was away from Manasi.
Manasi’s face, I noticed, seemed to have impaled after Ashok’s departure.
She occasionally mentioned missing Ashok and how eagerly she waited for him to return. In our few conversations, which
we had over the garden hedge, I noticed that she made no mention about her daughter-in-law. I was sure that she disliked
Piroska. I don’t think she celebrated her son’s wedding with the self-satisfied zeal of a mother.
I could foresee the kind of loss that she was going to face, and she seemed mentally unprepared for a compromise with the
other woman. She would have to share her life with Piroska and had to refrain from indulging in his private life.
I felt pity for her vulnerable state of mind as everything physical and mental seemed to torment and torture her, but if she
was mature enough, she would keep away from her son. I tried asking her about Piroska.
“Is your daughter-in-law pretty?”
“Kind of—those typical
conventional kinds.” She made her look like one of those types who applied loads of oil in their hair and put
coloured ribbons through their braids.
“I am glad that Ashok has found a life partner.”
“He never really searched for one. This lady was his first and last choice.
I wanted to show him more girls before he made a decision—but all my efforts went in vain,” she said in a sad
tone. She made no effort to hide her dislike for the little Red Riding Hood.
met Piroska when they returned from Greece, and I fell in love with the girl who had a charming soft voice; she looked ravishing
in her black jeans and a cream corset. She seemed so much in love with Ashok, that in my heart I wished them luck, knowing
that in another few days the melodrama would begin. Piroska and I vibed instantly as our interests floated on the same
plane. Being an artist herself, she was overwhelmed when I told her that she could try her hand at some of my earthen
pots. We laughed when she said that her landscapes would beat the romanticism on Keat’s “Grecian Urn.”
What I liked about her was the subtle use of wit in between our conversation, and she had no hang-ups about learning new things.
It took us no time to become good friends.
In the months that followed,
I tried to seek stress on Piroska’s face, but she showed none. I felt she needed more time to confide in me.
I did not dare barge into her private life by questioning about Manasi. She spoke very little about her Madonna.
I respected Piroska for her discretion; she was strong in character, had the will power of a cow, and knew that home matters
were an individual’s private affair and not something that could be made public. She had rare characteristics
found in few women, who had the traits of displaying matters to be concealed within the four walls on the tea table.
You saw dirty linen being washed in public, mostly in feminine magazines and cubbyholes like the saloon and at the tailor.
Piroska was intelligent, well read and had a great sense of dressing. She had a
body that helped her to experiment with anything. I was sure that in the nude she would look like a holy angel making
the devil blush in his chained attire.
She was eager to learn my trade and
spent long hours watching me play with clay. I enjoyed playing with clay right from my school days; its softness had
the power of creativity. I loved the way it could be moulded into shapes at the potter’s wheel. I remember
sitting at a wayside potter’s shack for hours watching the creation of a water pot, and getting a good hiding from my
father for returning home late. I never repeated it again, but my eyes tended to throw a glance at the wheel when I
cycled by, and it was then that I decided to have my own pottery business. I saved all my pocket money. I dreamt
about beautiful pots, about having my own large space for a workshop, a storage place for the clay that would be purchased
in huge bulk. I had an aim that I wanted to fulfil on my own merit. I could not tell Piroska how I managed to
stand on my own feet, doing odd jobs, running errands for my neighbours, selling newspapers, and sleeping around. I
saved every penny to achieve my goal, as I knew that I would do it as creativity came to me very easily. I had the ability
to make my imagination run in all directions. I wanted to be independent, and that I could achieve only with my will
power. Maybe in my last birth I was a potter’s child, as I felt so comfortable kneading clay. The greyish-black
colour of clay had a charm of its own. When the wet substance mingled with my fingers, my imagination frantically searched
for a new shape, a new form. My hands wanted to bring forth an original contribution with the dark mud.
In due course Piroska helped me give orders to the unit potters. She gave me ideas
for different shapes, and at times amused the two potters by trying out her hand at the clay-wheel. Her vivacious nature
made her a favourite among my mixed circle of friends. I always wanted to ask her if she would like to put a den for
her painting. I had a little space that I could provide for her easel and canvas. I was definite that Manasi must
have restricted her creative talent—that woman always sneered at my pots with “How long are you going to survive,
dirtying your hands with that soggy mud. Try your hands at business—you’ll be happy.” I used
to make her happy by saying, “that only hard core women like her could manage the world of business and my art
world was just a shadow in her life.” This kind of a comment brought a smile to her painted lips. She felt
elated at my subdued submission towards my own work. I was sure that she tried ironing Piroska out of her painting skills.
I couldn’t trust the vixen. She could never understand the creative world that we lived in, the world of imagination
and nature filled with a fantasy of different colours. For Manasi, the big machines, the boxes, the plastic cases and
the smell of spice excited her. Of course, we all live in a different world, having different individual choices, and
I was nobody to criticise her. But I noticed that the more money she made, the more she wanted. Ashok, on the
other hand, did not have such extreme choices, and I was sure that instead of dissuading Piroska from painting, he would have
taken immense interest to develop Piroska’s creative side. I could not ascertain the real reason for my friend
easing out of the art world. Again, my conscience did not permit me to question. Sometimes I felt that Piroska
was still a stranger to me, due to which I felt awkward to cross-examine her.
Ashok left for long business trips, Piroska spent a night with me at my place. We use to spend hours lazing on my silk
covers, chatting about Indian art, pottery, mythology, Egyptian mysteries, sex and mutual involvement. We had strong
disagreements over certain issues, and at the same time we agreed on many things over a chilled glass of wine. It was
during one of these nights out that she casually asked me about Manasi.
“Does my ma always live on a different plane?”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked, ignoring
the fact that I understood her question.
“You know that she has a
is reserved, and I have always known her to be like that,” I pretended to claim.
“No way, she isn’t the same with Ashok and
her other business clients. It is only with me that she is like frozen. With Ashok, I have observed that she shares
an extraordinary intimacy.” I kept mum on that sentence, watching guiltily the frothing of white bubbles on my
beer. I allowed her to continue talking without any interruption.
“Sometimes, I wonder why Ashok is so spineless and takes permission for every decision
he makes from my dear ma. Did he consult her before he got married to me? I am sure he must have!”
If only Piroska knew how Manasi
had thrown a fit for a week, making her son’s life miserable, and how he spent those days at his office doing overtime
work, or slept at my place after lapping gallons of beer and calling his Madona a bitch in his drunken state. Poor boy,
he thought she would improve after her marriage, but the woman seemed to be more horny, aggressive and demanding. He
complained to me how lusty she had become, and he was afraid that Piroska would discover the relationship. He always
walked around with a tense, uneasy look. He tried to explain to her that she had to behave in reason, to which she had
exploded into tears like a forsaken lover. Ashok raised his hands in surrender and anguish, and told me that he had
no other alternative but to manage with both his women, and if he got caught, then he would leave the rest in God’s
hands. I hated him for this. He wanted both sides of the coin.
“You are going to land yourself into serious trouble,” I said. He just
shrugged at that.
the bastard understand that he had to choose a path? He still had the time to change his thinking process. He
could still seek medical aid and I was sure that Piroska would help him. Deep down I knew that I was breaking my heart
over a boy who could not do anything on his own. It had to be “mama, can I do this?” He wanted to
lick the cream and eat the cake too. I had the urge to give him a decent lecture or take him to a doctor, but would
I be successful with this man who was so much in love with the Madonna? He needed a severe thrashing, or else he would
lose the woman he married. I was very sure that the future for Piroska was very bleak. Was she as strong as she showed
herself to be? How long was this energy to suppress her agony going to last, I wondered. What I feared most was
the negative impact that would destroy her totally. Why could I just not tell her the truth? Why? Why? Alas!
The truth would kill this gentle women who I felt pretended to be tough. I kept all my fingers crossed for her to bear
with the consequences.
Ashok was caught between two women, both legal
mates at different levels. One was a seductive mother whom he loved and was helpless at her possessive nature, and the
other was an adorable wife whom he wanted to treasure all his life. Ashok could not live without both the women, as
both played an important role in his life.
He recalled the day his Madonna
seduced him. At first he was shocked at the unusual touch upon his body, but with time he got absorbed in its aesthetic
bliss. She seemed to be a practised lover and guided him into the ultimate world of lust. Her nudity fascinated
him, and her body spoke in volumes, in different languages maybe.
that morally he would be condemned by the society, but what the heck, why would any one check his bedroom? Hadn’t
he the right to live the way he wanted to, or should he be dominated by a mundane society who preferred to do everything behind
a veil, and had not he become a part of this system? One had to constantly be in touch with busy bodies who gave advice
as to how others should live, and he hated them. Though his secret was narrated to his next door neighbour, whom he
trusted, to be discovered by others scared him. It would bring shame to his Madonna’s image, and the world of
business would have its last laugh, and that would drive him insane. He could not imagine those lousy competitors guffawing
away at the “rich bitch.”
He had matured overnight by losing
his virginity to the deemed mother goddess. She had ripened and nurtured him mentally and physically, and he could not
see beyond her. He was floored and obsessed by all her movements, the way she ordered around people, and she was harsh,
rude, dominant, and gentle. People respected her out of sheer awe, and many called her the stinking rich bitch.
He did get hurt at that reference but then she was so desirable to him that what others said did not matter to him.
He never thought that one day some things had to under go a change, as for him the change took place when Piroska entered
into his life.
It dawned on him that this was a different woman, soft spoken,
talented, wacky, and innocent like a new-born baby. She attracted him instantly and he fell for her, not fearing the
consequence at home. He was pleased with himself for not taking his Madonna along to Lasa. His Madonna was livid
when he announced his decision to marry the pretty mountain lass. She came onto him like a drunken monster, like a savage
wolf wanting to tear him apart. She harped and sulked about his feline choice. She booed like a child who lost
her toy and moaned like an injured animal who had been shot at. The new intervention made her crazy. She boggled
him out of his senses, driving him to take shelter in liquor and his friend next door. He could not bear the mental
agony that he had to feast upon everyday. He wanted to break free from her clutches, spread his wings and fly high into
the clear blue sky. A bird’s life was far more interesting than squirming like a soat.
Piroska seemed a bit suspicious of his abnormal behaviour. She questioned him in a very indirect manner.
A small slip of the tongue and he would be damned and defiled for life; therefore, he had to be careful in the way he tackled
her. The best way to keep her at bay was to pamper her, and that kept her settled. He had no intention of troubling
her, as she seemed so understanding and did not get upset easily. He did confide in her about everything, but not about
Manasi, as the topic was delicate and would lead to fireworks.
resumed her painting, Ashok could read through them. There was a dull sullenest in them. If her mind did not speak
out, her colours did. He started to feel miserable in his state. Life became more complicated when he leaned on
Piroska for certain decisions, making his mother grim.
his mother understand that he had a future ahead of him? He wanted to have a family like everyone else did. Couldn’t
she stop playing her sexual politics, she was breaking his marriage. When would this woman come to her senses?
She did everything according to her whims and fancies. She always liked to be the boss in bed and out of it too, and
this unusual dominance of hers delighted him, due to which he could not reprimand her on any account.
The wicked smile on her lips possessed him with the kind of spell she had him under. Sometimes he tended
to over sleep in the Madonna’s room and felt ashamed when Piroska said nothing. At such moments he got angry with
himself and hated his mother for entwining him in this deviant tangle. His next door friend advised him to stay separately,
the idea suited him, but to be away from his Madonna frightened him. He could not just abandon her like that—he
would be committing a grave crime. Imagine his Madonna in a lonely, hapless state. She would be like a lonely
soul in a grave, nobody to care for her, and this thought tormented him to the limits of decay.
Wasn’t he a confused fool who could not take a correct decision? Hadn’t he married Piroska
to set his life straight? So why was he backing out? Hadn’t he decided to break the bond, then what was stopping
him—his pent-up feelings on—the Madonna? His optimistic determination had failed him downright. He
was going to rot in hell when he died; did that really matter to him?
mind floated around like a misguided ghost, wondering why she had chosen him and not any other man? He had not been
aware why her relation with the Italian had split. Did he have anything to do with it, or was it that she just got bored
with the foreign species? She sure was an arduous woman to tackle and her ill humour tended to turn Piroska’s
life upside down. He admired his wife’s tolerant powers and wished he were like her in some ways. Was there
a difference between his childhood and adulthood? He learned about life too fast, he felt that any human being should
grow up with time. It was better to go along with the three phases of life, just as we went along with the cycle of
nature. At this time life sucked for him, and he felt like an aged lion who could not hunt any more. He had the
strong urge to rebel within himself. Ashok hated his inner voice that forced him to divide his attention both ways.
He felt gloomy when he recalled his misdeeds. It was not possible for him to compromise. His inner self screamed
and tormented him. It has to be Piroska—Piroska, it bawled. The reminder seemed like his aged forefathers warning
him of the dangers ahead. Everytime the warning bell rang, Ashok drowned himself in liquor to free himself from his
screeching forefathers. Those few moments made him feel as if a python was tying a knot round his neck. He wished it
were happening, the reptile twirling him around, breaking all his bones till he became limp like an impotent penis.
I recalled Piroska strumming into my work place, looking withered and hassled.
Her eyes carried the blaze of a newly lit coal pit, while her blue denim shorts with a purple tank top gave her the look of
a composed spring breeze. I stared at her, waiting for the outburst. She looked as though Satan had broken his
chains and there was going to be havoc.
“God! that woman—that MADONNA of mine,” she burst out, pointing back towards her bungalow.
“What about Manasi?”
I asked, afraid of the truth getting spilled out from the angel’s mouth.
“Have you ever come across a woman of her kind”
“What has she done to annoy you?”
“You can ask what she
has not done,” she stamped her foot in anger. I kept my silence watching her furious face frowning in disgust.
She straightened her shoulder to compose herself.
“How long have you know this bitch?”
“For a few years.”
“Did not you find something wrong with her? That woman is a mentally confused
it take you so many months to judge her?”
Piroska looked at me, wondering what I was talking about. “What do you mean by that? Her eyes blazed
is a little vague.” I corrected myself before Piroska got suspicious of what I was getting at. She did not
catch on to what I said, and in one gush she said,
“She is bloody shameless.” What was new about that, I thought. “Asking my husband to
massage her, as though he were a masseur in some damn parlour. Why can’t she drive down to a saloon instead of
having people in the house taking care of her dry, twigged body.” I continued brushing my baked pot with a burnt
red oil paint. She plonked on my spare cane stool, stretching out her long limbs and brooding. “I do not
mind if she taunts me, or refers to my painting as junk, but when she tends to get physical with Ashok, I get worked up.
She treats him as though he were her lover—God, if you could come and see her melodramatic and multifarious dispositions—in
her seductive moods, baring herself in Eve’s fig leaves, sulking, throwing tantrums, you would not have stayed a minute
under that red roof. She is one hellofa fox.” I agreed with that—FOX was too mild a word for that
was Ashok’s reaction to all this?” I asked.
“What does he not do for her? He drools all over her like a honeycomb that
drips with excessive honey. He worships her like a goddess. Sometimes I get the feeling that I am nobody in the
house.” I could see the tears flowing down her cheeks. How I wanted to tell her to pack her bags and go
back to Lasa, as she would never understand the mother-son relation, and even if she did she would become bitter with it.
She should return to the exotic mountains and file for a divorce, as in this kind of a gloom she would become deranged.
Why were all these thoughts spinning in my mind? Why did I not interfere?
Didn’t I feel protective towards her? Then why did I not speak out? I seemed like a serpent hiding behind
a rose bush. What was wrong with my approach? I wondered. I understood her pain and knew that she was in
for a greater shock, then why was I getting this sadistic pleasure of holding back Ashok’s secret? Why was I getting
scared and of whom? Manasi would be a happy person if Piroska left. So why was I clamming up about telling her
the truth? I wanted to puke on myself for concealing my inner thoughts.
Piroska sob, I had the urge to hug and console her, but I could not share her pain. Who could feel the depth of someone
else’s sorrow? By sympathising with the mourner, you tend to add more salt to the sore wound. I left her
to sniffle on her own, and after a short while, when the loud sniffs subsided, she asked me if she could paint a pot.
I let her do so because she had to drown her sorrows. We were so alike, whenever
I got very upset, I spent all my time with the pots. I guess this was the best way of spilling our pent-up emotions.
That was the last time I met Piroska, who I heard had left for Lasa. In a way I
was happy, and sad as I would miss her. She left the pot for me, which was in the shape of a wine barrel. It had
vibrant colours. On it she painted a crude outline of a distorted woman’s figure, which reflected on Piroska’s
life. It had taken no time for her to depict her emotions, and she had left it for me to decipher—which I did.
I kept Piroska’s pot in my drawing room, as it became a priced personal possession for me. People who visited
my place set their eyes on it, some wanted to buy it—I had refused.
dead earthen pot pinpointed to my inner guilt of not being able to save Piroska right from the start. If you tend to
gaze at it for a longer period—it showed the flexibility of a mature mind. I always felt a heavy gloom when I
happened to stare at it. I had lost a dear friend who had shared so many things in common with me.
After Piroska’s, disappearance, Ashok had made himself invisible by flying off to the Nicobar islands,
maybe to sink himself or to purify his inner dirty soul in the spans of the clear blue water. Manasi seemed to be lost
in her world of business, and I dared not ask about Piroska as it would have infuriated her. My source of information
was far way from Sangeela. I had felt hurt that he had not come knocking at my door, especially in his time of distress.
Sure, something serious had taken place. It was not necessary for him to share everything with me. I should not
take our friendship for granted. Did I ever tell him about myself—NEVER. And I felt no need for someone
else to give me advice. Ashok was years younger than I, but that did not really matter. Each one of us had something
to hide from the world; some memories are for the self-alone. So why was I getting frustrated about Ashok’s personal
life? I should let him fend for himself, as he was no baby who needed breast feeding. I knew that I was not being
true to myself, as I cared for this boy. He at times was a child, and all children needed a finger to hold on to when
they started to walk.
Though Ashok had narrated his true self to me, I had
to keep my own guilt to myself. How could I tell him that I joined a nunnery out of force, that my father could not
afford to get me married and had decided to sell me in the flesh market. How I had dragged myself to the holy place,
knowing fully well that I had no interest in Christianity. I knew that holiness in the four walls stank of hypocrisy,
how they preached about the seven deadly sins but did not abide it to their private lives. Could I have been able to
tell Ashok the way I felt when I got to the convent, and how I had been isolated to seek myself? How betrayed I felt
about everything. I could not bring myself to get involved in the Holy Spirit, nor could I trust myself in the hands
of the holy women, who walked around as if to say the world did not exist. It had not been possible for me to tell this young
man how I had disrobed myself and escaped from all the uninteresting lessons of morality. I could not belong to any
religion, though I respected all. I hated the so-called rallies held to promote my breed. I believed in living
life to its fullest, and getting armed in white robes having to walk around with loose boobs had no genuine attraction to
me. I missed Ashok, though he did not belong to my school of thought in some matters of life. I never told him
how I worked my butt off to start my own business, how I borrowed money from my rich uncle, and how he made use of my body.
The past was like a festering wound, wanting to ooze out its dirty pus every time it turned septic.
Ashok had no wish to return to Sangeela. The god-damned
place started to repel him, how strange, he grew into a man there, everything around there had memories. Each incident
came to him like the seasons of the year, which he would rewind when he felt like; as of today, these memories stank like
bat droppings. He wanted to be far away from those memories that he could not cope with.
His Madonna had made a mess of his life, and to a certain extent he was to blame. He never made an effort
to drive himself away from her, she had stampeded into his life like a wild horse, and he being the untrained jockey had got
tossed out of the saddle. Now, what was the use of pacifying himself, for all his wretched mistakes? He betrayed
himself, and he felt like another Judas wanting to hang himself after the show was over. His eyes strayed towards the
sea, which was looking holier than ever in front of him, but it could not perform a miracle of purifying his cursed self.
The water of innocence flowed over him, yet it did not help him to find redemption from his life. He was a damned soul!!
Piroska left for good, and even if he sat with his fingers crossed through the whole
year, his luck would never favour him. One day it was going to happen (the spilt), but the way it happened, he could
not trust himself to say it. Many did not know why Pirsoka left suddenly for Lasa. Manasi spun a yarn, as to how
the two could not vibe. Ashok squirmed at the lie told to friends with a straight face. She never let him explain
anything, as she needed no excuse to take charge of the situation (her son’s marital life). She was not the least
bit interested in Ashok’s emotions, she was not even bothered if he could handle the break-up, all she was concerned
was about cleaning up the feminine touches left in his room, giving a thorough spring cleaning.
Losing Piroska was a great blow to Ashok. He grew to love her. He was so overjoyed when she declared
that she was carrying his child. He hid the secret from her (the Madonna), as she would not like the bond becoming stronger,
and she would have become afraid of losing him. What logic she had, could any child forget his mother? Whatever
she was, wasn’t every child made from the mother’s flesh and blood, to totally keep her aside was just not possible.
This woman had different concepts, which made heaven turn black, and she could make Satan hide behind his cloak.
He had no face to show his next door neighbour, he guessed that she must have analysed
Piroska’s sudden disappearance, the lady was smart. He should have listened to her right from the start.
He left Piroska like an uprooted rose, the nourishment that he vowed to give her led to malnutrition. He felt like committing
suicide, he felt like racing against the wind until it would exhaust him. He had the strong urge to strangle the woman
who gave birth to him. She misled him by sexually abusing him at a tender age, and he fell for her, instead of moving
out of her acidic shadow. The earlier repulsion that he should have felt started to burst out now, but the situation
had gone well beyond his control.
He wondered if he could reconcile with
Piroska, but he knew he stood no chance. He betrayed her and devastated her trust. The suspicion that she had
come to light in a very cruel manner made her walk into the streets and back to Lasa. He did not know what happened
to her, but he received a letter from her mother after five months of his wife’s disappearance asking for a divorce.
He did not resist, as he wanted Piroska to have some breathing space, and this time he had made up his own mind. This
freedom of thought lasted till he was out of her sight, cause the minute she appeared in front of him, his tender heart melted
like an ice cube that received too much sunlight.
His Madonna was a shrewd
snake, a whirlwind which did not know where its centre was, she was like Cleopatra who wanted to lure the Roman generals into
her bed and then subdue them to “slavish obedience,” she was a wolf in a sheep’s clothing, wanting to destroy
everything innocent. He lamented over the grave mistake of not getting away from her on the first encounter. Her
body excited him, he just wanted to caress it whenever he could, and she was divine in any position. Lust really made
people berserk, no wonder the holy ones tried their level best to keep away from it to reach a higher plane, yet someone like
Rajneesh said, “It is fun! It is God’s gift to enjoy and celebrate. It is participating in the great festival
that existence is.”
Far, far away from the
mundane human life sat the beautiful Piroska, twiddling her thumbs in the early morning sunlight. The sunrays could
not spread enough warmth, as the mist had not fully lifted. She came early to her painting den, as she had decided on
a picture in her mind to colour across her canvas. The scene that she had in mind was of—the sun disappearing—a
round red ball into the sea. The sky a mixture of yellow, blue, grey, and brown, the sea slightly awakened by the evening
wind and far away the sea seeming to gulp down the fireball. The beach she wanted to paint with a baked look, and a
small trailer left unattended. She saw this in Goa sitting at the Haystack and carried the image to Lasa. Piroska
wanted to bridge the gap between heaven and earth that morning, but her moods changed with time. She suddenly became
melancholy and had no intention of touching her paints. She just wanted to sit there and relax, she was in a mood to
laugh and to cry, she was in a crazy frame of mind, and wanted to indulge in something weird, which was not colourful.
She knew not what she wanted to do.
She watched the mist get lifted by an
Unknown Force. God spread his cloak over Lasa to protect its rustic people who were slowly getting used to modernisation
and trying to cope up with the other side of the world. In the distance she could hear the ring of a temple bell,
it was singing praise to lord Shiva in a very dedicated manner. It had been ages since she had visited the holy shrine,
she used to visit it regularly with her mother, but recently, after her return from Sangeela she had not gone. She was
not angry with the God for testing her or for taking her through a harrowing experience in life, but she was not yet ready
to go on a holy trip. She said her prayers while going to bed and that was enough of a formality for her. Her
mother always told her that she needed the help of God to strengthen her broken self, however Piroska disagreed. Where
was her God when she had lost control of herself? Why should she pray to him now, after the damage was done? She
forgot him a long time ago, and the chapter was closed.
The people of Lasa
consisted of two kinds, the poor and the rich. The rich consisted of twelve families including hers. The poor
in Lasa were not poverty stricken; they worked in the fields, cut wood, worked as tea-pickers, earning a decent amount for
their two square meals. The place was too neat to see beggars hovering around for money, yet it was not a total paradise
for a few. This place had its own charm, and people lived with its natural surroundings. One part of the fertile
Lasa was cultivated into tea gardens, having its own manufacturing unit, some parts of the mountain could not be utilised
due to heavy forestation, yet some villagers trekked into them to pick up herbs, wild berries, and dry wood. One got
to hear stories of wild beasts and of witchcraft, and Piroska enjoyed listening to tales about the medicine man who danced
till his feet bled, on a new moon’s night to wade away the evil from a possessed body. She read about black magic,
but never saw the witch doctor. If she ever got a chance to see him (as he lived inside the forest), she would want
to paint him in his colourful attire of nudism, making her father fume with rage. She would upset the old man’s
sleep, making him dream about the bees and the birds, oh how she would love to see him all shaken.
Daughters were supposed to be pampered by fathers in almost all households. However, in Piroska’s
house he did not have enough time even time to look at her. How strange it all seemed—the only daughter of the
house that had no connection with her father. She did not hate him in the real sense, but he disturbed her. His
relation with Sarah and with the other women upset her. He showed no compassion to the lady he married. Her mother had
everything—she was pretty, intelligent and creative. Piroska found nothing wrong in her mother. What was
it that kept Suresh Bhat away from her? Why did he drift away so far from both of them?
Once a year Lasa became a festive place. With the celebration of goddess Kalavati, there used to be an uproar,
women bedecked in jasmine flowers, going to the local fair to sell their goodies, while the men dragged the cattle for selling.
During such times the place stank of cattle dung, jasmine flowers and stale fried food. Most of the women wore red sarongs
baring their tanned shoulders. This did not irk the men, as the dress was part of the festive mood. If anyone at all
got swayed by the bare look, it was the educated goons, the tourists, as they were called, who found the bareness troublesome.
As though such nudity did not exist in the cities. Looking at the other side they appreciated the unique, attractive
wooden jewellery that the local women created on their own—anklets, earrings, amulets and the mystical “tavis”
given to them by the local priest.
Tourist attraction at Lasa, was for its
scenic beauty. The place had only three inns, due to which the inflow of outsiders was less. Suresh Bhat and Ashara’s
father built a club to entertain their guests and for the staff at the tea factory. Two small pubs catered to the richie-rich
kids, for the localities this was like their arrack shop in the market place, and hence its existence did not disturb them.
In spite of this small modern invasion, the local ideas, the spiritual bliss, and the innocent virtues did not get eroded;
she prayed that Lasa would remain the same. Piroska remembered the six miniature art exhibitions that she held at Lasa,
it had taken a long time for her to get the right crowd. She tried to hold it for one day so that the spectators could
drive back to the next city. Her last five exhibitions before her marriage got a superb response; she managed to sell
almost all of her works, thanks to her agent, who she had never seen, for giving her so much invisible support. Piroska
wondered from where her mother got all her connections. Without her everything would have been impossible, with the
kind of father she had. Piroska’s agent was someone reliable and trustworthy, and someone who loved art; due to
this she could concentrate on her painting. She did earn a good sum and felt relaxed at being her own independent master,
spending the money the way she wanted. Her marriage to Ashok turned the tables upside down, as her painting talents
had gone under heavy sedation. Though Ashok encouraged her to restart, her ma-in-law did not think much of her art;
she was weird where sense of creation was concerned. In spite of the Madonna cribbing, Piroska managed to do landscapes
for their bedroom. The damn woman led to all her miseries.
the divorce was a painful one, she did not forget about Ashok totally. He slipped into her mind often like the morning
mist, leaving a damp feeling after it vanished. Those were bad days, the process of the legal separation itself was
complex, it brought disillusionment, self-humiliation and the loss of self-esteem. It left open wounds inside her, and
she thanked the gods for taking away her child. She was told that she could not sire another child; that did not matter,
as she had no intentions of getting married. If she did have thoughts of getting married again, then she would have
said yes to Yash when he proposed. She did not want to give herself another chance, nor did she have the courage to
go through it again; it was difficult to judge a stranger in a few encounters. Yash was something else. She could
not call their encounter a one-night stand. She wondered where he was. Was he thinking of her? Did she truly
mean something to him? Why was she thinking of him right now? He did not even bother to find out if she was existing,
though the opium flowers seemed from him!! She held her hand to her heavy head and concluded that she was a confused
Piroska tried her level best to forget Manasi, whom she misjudged.
She was eccentric and was a typical psychological case, needing urgent help. Piroska wondered how dumb she had been
to over look the mother and son’s behavioural pattern. Even when she suspected them; it was just a passing thought.
You read about it, but experiencing it in your own house was painful. Her mother at first did not believe her story
and thought it to be a kind of wild hallucination. She did not dream that such incidents take place in an educated family,
but with time she did manage to swallow the truth, that education had nothing to do with it. If you were content with
everything in life, you didn't indulge in such abnormal behaviour. At the same time, such complexes could exist anywhere
in the mind.
A sudden chill ran down Piroska’s spine as she tried
to evade the gory past; old thoughts tired her out, and that temporary vision of the nude body lurching towards lusty desire
repelled her. The memories were too strong for her to hide in a dark passage, and they haunted her at anytime of the
It was a bright Saturday morning and she went to visit the doctor.
She took Ashok along at times to the clinic for moral support. On that day he was unable to come, as an important client
was to visit him at home. Manasi also stayed back when there was no need to, as Ashok managed the new clients. Leaving
the two together made Piroska uneasy, and she had found that bug nagging her mind, annoying, telling her that she would be
sorry. The doctor's visit was for a short while, and since she was in no mood to go back home early, she decided to
do some shopping for herself, Ashok, and her next-door friend. Manasi, she felt, deserved nothing of her affection.
Laden with shopping and groceries, stopping at the florist, she picked up a dozen red carnations, roses and white lilies;
she drove home listening to the Beatles.
There was silence in the house
when she walked in, though both the cars were parked out on the drive. Piroska left the things on the table and started
to move in the direction of her bedroom when she heard laughter coming from the spare bedroom. She didn’t stop
to think when she heard a seductive female voice commanding, “go on, do it,” and the muffled voice of her beloved
husband saying, “spread out, damn you.” Piroska felt as though the devil had possessed her and she threw
open the door to see her legal mate in the ecstasy of love making. Piroska for a split second wished she were blind
as she saw the thunderstruck, ashen face of her husband, as though he had just received shock treatment. Piroska recalled
how bewildered she was and how the sudden hysteria made her scream and scream and charge down the stairs into the streets
as though doomsday had arrived. She heard someone call out her name, but nothing could stop her. She sped like
a wild beast trying to avoid the Day of Judgement. The last she remembered was collapsing on the main road. She
got to hear from her mother how she was saved by a common friend who called Lasa and asked Sushmita to come, and the rest
was history. After all this drama, Piroska still had her doubts about Manasi, for at times she felt that she had not
focused her attention on the woman beneath her husband. Was she fantasising Manasi’s role? This thought
confused her so much that she let it remain buried for good, as she did not want to cause more problems to herself.
Piroska remembered the frustration that she had undergone. There was no peace of
mind. She used to get irritated so easily that one shied away from her. She became short tempered, a reversal to the
cool-headed babe that she had been. She had moved into an insecure state of mind, where she failed to do anything concrete,
just fading into a state of depression. She had gone to the stage of self-pity, willing herself to die rather than to
live. Those days had been dreadful and her mother did not talk about them. Piroska had been happy that her father
was no where on the scene, or else she would have had a tough time with him snarling down her back. Had he been there,
she sure would have committed suicide, as he would never have believed her story. He was in love with Ashok, and he would
have done justice to their love had he been gay. Even had he known the truth, it possibly wouldn’t have mattered,
having flings and one-night stands was a part and parcel of their business agenda. Who slept with whom did not bother
him. Yet she could not read him, and wondered how her mother had coped with him for so many years. She was thankful
to Sushmita Bhat for keeping her illness a secret. People in Lasa wondered what was wrong with her. The local gossip was that
she had been ill-treated by her in-laws, you did go out of your way to clarify the truth because with passage of time, people
forgot about her ailment, credit had to be given to her mother, who handled the situation with such care.
Though Piroska did not care for her father and what he said did not bother her, she had been foolish enough to
come under pressure by getting herself engaged to Ashara. Why she feared this father of hers she could not tell.
She was aware that she needed time, especially since her last marriage had blown out like a candle flame. In spite of
having a communication gap with Ashara, she could not flee away from the social binding, she was a bloody coward, wanting
to suffer more and more in life. She seemed to have no control of her life. She followed what her parents told
her; at times she felt like the cursed Eve who listened to the crafty serpent who made her life miserable. Yet she depended
on those anti-depressant pills that she popped into her mouth when she got the feeling of losing her inner stability.
She had to give them up. How long was she going to depend on them?
had been a long time since she sat in the sun; she looked around into the eyes of nature, breathing in all its harmonious
glory. She loved nature, as it inspired her to paint. Everything that she saw seemed new the next day, and this excited
her no bounds. Getting up from her comfortable position she walked into her den. Opening the wooden door gently,
she gave out a muffled cry; on her cane table lay a bunch of fresh opium flowers. It seemed as though Yash had been
here, but why had he left without meeting her? Why was he avoiding her? She was confused. Did he know anything
about Ashara? Was he trying to blackmail her? Suddenly she became afraid to be alone. This heaven of hers
looked like a dark cave. She did not to stay here a minute longer. Locking her door, she trotted home on foot,
forgetting that she had driven here.
on the road without lifting her head; she seemed to be in a daze. Her eyes did not tend to stray over the beautiful
landscape, nor did she hear the koel coo. She ignored Bi and his sheep, she could not smell the fresh bloomed flowers,
nor did she admire the deep forestation on the right side of the road, she did not even feel her feet getting heavy as she
kept walking on, her mind was in total disarray. When she got home, she ignored her mother and her guest, who were sitting
on the right wing of the house, where you could watch people walking up the drive. Piroska walked into the comfort of
the house, her gait suddenly slowed down when she smelled the familiar smell of cigar smoke, which had irritated her nose
at the Haystack in Goa. The smoke was drifting in her direction.
was in her house with her mother, but how could that be? How did her mother know Yash? If she did know him, than
why did she not mention him to her? Piroska wondered if it was really Yash sitting with her mother, as she did not see
the person but only smelled the pungent cigar. Piroska had this sudden urge to turn and go back to the place where her
mother was sitting, but she chickened out. There was nothing new in this action of hers, as she was always running away
from life, she wished she could tear her hair apart for being so silly. She fled up the stairs and shut the door with
a bang, an anger was seething inside her; an unknown fury was building up which would explode soon. What she needed
now was for Yash to open her door and kiss her for a long time. She realised that she loved the man and wished to marry
him, this fleeting thought about marriage surprised her. For all these months she avoided this topic, but she realised
at times that she needed a companion to share her inner feelings. She needed someone to discuss, to debate on certain
issues that mattered to her. She would love to have someone who understood her vibes, her colours, and her love for
reading and for nature. Who would fit into her dreams? None other than Yash! She was aware that this was
a shattered dream and she was asking for the sun God to descend upon earth, without wooing him. She remembered Guilford
Dudley’s sayings, “Dream your dreams, then blueprint your dreams, and finally contract with yourself to construct
them stone by stone. But while you are dreaming, Dream Big.” She walked straight towards her dressing table; this
was the best place to study her inner lost soul and to see her big dreams. She did have one big dream and that was to become
a famous artist, an artist who would be remembered for her work of art and her imagination. She should not fade away from
the minds of people. If only this dream of got fulfilled, she would rejoice with all the gods of heaven.
Piroska sat in front of her mirror and gazed at herself. She looked at her reflection, which stared back
at her with a gloom. She gazed into her beautiful eyes, which looked so dull. What had she done to herself?
She had murdered the youth within herself. She had lost the glow of the moonbeam on her. She looked like a harvested
meadow where the wind had swept the high grass to its knee. She looked like a tree that had shed it’s autumn leaves,
her face seemed bored and tired. Why had she done this to herself? She continuously questioned herself.
She should not indulge herself in her own misery, even though she had no one to share her woes. Although her mother
stood by her side like a firm shadow, Piroska at times felt she was too immeresed in her emotions, which would annoy her mother.
She continued to stare at herself, feeling sad that one marriage could bring about so
much change. She questioned herself if it was worth thinking about. Ashok? She could not live with his memories
all her life. Had she not forgotten him when Yash picked her up in his strong arms—she knew that Yash would never
propose to her, as here it was she who made the grave mistake of refusing him when he proposed. The memories of Yash
could not be buried like a mummy. The love that she felt for him was not meant for decaying. If at all she wanted
him, she had to go to him, but how was she to manage it? She had to pick up courage to tell Ashara that she could not
marry him, and she lacked the guts. Was she not a coward, she asked her reflection? It seemed to agree with her
thoughts. What was she to do? Why was life so difficult for her? The reflection seemed to say that she was
at fault. She just had to do something serious. She had no intentions of going back to those sorrowful days.
She was cheated on for the first time by Ashok, and here it would be she who was betraying Ashara by subconsciously thinking
As she sat on the stool in front of her mirror, combing her hair,
she heard a knock on the door, her heart stopped beating for a while. The door knocked three times, Piroska did not
get up from her seat, she was afraid of facing Yash. She heard the door handle turn, making her pulse race. A
sudden frown crept on her face as she saw the reflection of not Yash in the mirror, but her fiancee. She wanted to fling
the vase at him and break his nut. Why didn’t anything happen to him? He got on her nerves! Staring
at him as though he were a stranger, she decided to tell him what a bore he was. Since the time she had returned from
Goa she avoided him, telling him that the courting could wait till her exhibition was over. She entertained him at home,
getting bored with his non-stop chatter about his new outlets in north India, and what kind of a wedding his parents had planned
for them. At times he sounded like her ex-husband, and she hated him even more. She wondered what kind of complex
don’t you sit, Ashara.” She said in a delicate voice. “I have something to tell you.”
“Please Piroska, don’t
cancel this date of ours, as it been a long time since we went out.”
She just gazed at him, and her mind encouraged her to go ahead with whatever she was
going to tell him.
, I cannot get married to you as we just don’t vibe well. I feel we are two different people having different
value systems, and in the near future we’ll be getting on each other's nerves. I hope you understand.”
He just stared at her, his face broken up like a caramel pudding that had not set.
“You cannot do this to me at the last minute. I am sure your father is not
going to like this. Who is going to marry a disturbed person like you? You were lucky that my father decided to
hang the noose round my neck. You are sick, Piroska, you are ill in the body, and in the mind and no one can save you.”
His eyes spat fire and he looked so very ugly. She was glad that he said nothing about her past, which meant that he
knew nothing about Ashok’s passions. How would he when just her mother and the counsellor knew about it. She looked
at him—how could she marry this insipid creature? She just wanted to dump him in the backyard. She wanted him out of
her sight. If he stood a minute longer, she would puke.
“Please leave my room,” she said curtly. Who will marry me is my own
problem not yours. Get out of my room, and if I am sick, I’ll take care of it.” She loved the
voice that rang out with confidence from her throat, she felt happy at her bold step, she had to be brave and she knew she
would be. Sushmita Bhat walked in when the last sentence was flung at the angry oil tycoon, who walked out in a great
hush. She walked up to her daughter and hugged her. She said nothing to her daughter, but Pirsoka knew that her
mother was proud of her. If she got the support from her mother, then she knew she had nothing to fear. Let her
father bawl his balls out, she would not be afraid. That man controlled her life to a large extent, but now she made
up her mind on this social contract. How long would she have people trampling all over her? It was high time that
she made her own decisions. With her, decisions did not remain permanent. Today would never be the same as yesterday—unstable
was her mind!!
This sudden opening of her inner hidden self frightened her.
What if she over reacted to situations and had a relapse, then it would be difficult for her to set things right. She
saw her mother sitting on her bed, watching her in deep thought. This woman understood her, and Piroska was assured
that her mother was happy for her. Sushmita Bhat’s mind was dancing with the glee she had been waiting for this
day when her daughter would saddle her own horse. She felt happier thinking of her husband’s fuming face, his
ego would be hurt and for sure there would be a real show down that she would be able to face. What had she to lose,
especially when her daughter was moving in the right positive direction? She felt like telling her about Yash, but at
the same time felt that the excitement would be too much for her. She left Piroska with a smile.
That night Piroska stood by her bedroom window watching the twilight fade into the darkness. Her face glowed
with a beauty that was difficult to explain, it had a calmness of a clear sky, and her normal weather-beaten look was transformed
into a bed of bright carnations. The evening wind blew gently over her happy state of mind. It seemed as if all
her troubles were submerged into a deep sea, her face showed an enthusiasm unknown to herself, and yet in the pit of her stomach
she felt a little uneasy. She felt as though this sudden burst of energy was only a temporary phase, and when she woke
up the next day all her courage would be washed away. She felt wretched at her own insecure feelings. She shrugged
her shoulders to wade away these dark thoughts. She was not a fallen woman who would want to hide her face, she had
not committed a crime nor did she feel guilty about having sex with Yash. Those had been moments that she wanted to
cherish all her life. She found love so abstract, as it changed with each human being. For her it was Ashok whom
she had drooled all over, and then her love got blown out of proportion, then her fleeting stay with Yash had made her so
giddy-headed. Was there something wrong in her approach towards love? She seemed such a broken woman. Her
calm yet confused mind stared into the dark night; the slow blowing wind made her sleepy. She laid on the bed without
getting out of her clothes, and fell into a deep sleep.
That night she had
a weird nightmare. She dreamt of her honeymoon in Greece. She saw herself holding hands with Ashok at the temple
of Lindos on the island of Rhodes. She remembered how they had admired the geometrical structure; she recalled some
of the harsh landscapes and the copse of cypress between Sparta and Kalamata, and how both of them had dwelt upon the scene.
She saw visions of themselves making love on their hotel balcony on a new moon’s night. Ashok taught her to be
a master in bed, always wanting her to be on the top. Those lovely moments faded when she felt as though she were getting
lost in the great theatre of Epidaurus, and saw masked men walking in her direction, they looked so queer in their disguise.
The masks they wore were weird. They were of wolves, demons, fairies, nymphs, kings and peasants. They all seemed
to approach her with some kind of anger. It seemed as though the masks changed colours as they came closer and closer
to her, forming a magical circle around her. Someone who wore the mask of a witch started to chant spells and curses.
As the whole lot came around her, they performed a vague dance. It was slow at first and then it moved faster and faster.
They created a rhythm with their feet. She was afraid of this colourful scene. Piroska dug deeper into her blankets,
feeling cold suddenly in her slumber. She saw her friend soaked in clay and colour, she looked a sight. She saw
Manasi falling off a cliff and, as she headed downwards, she was screaming out for her son.
Piroska saw the moon throw down her bright light. This light lit up the dark tree leaves, giving them a
silvery touch. Somewhere her eyes caught the flash of a glow-worm, she heard the crickets sing in a harmonious note,
she thought she heard the cry of a hyena far away. The pond in her garden looked like a headless jellyfish, the moon’s
reflection could be seen in the pond. It had a distorted face, as it had to glow among the bloomed lotus flowers.
Suddenly she saw the shadow of the devil hanging around her. The moonlight gave way to a dark abyss, in here she saw
bats and spiders crawling all over the place. She saw a spider spin its web around her, trapping her in the centre so
that she had no chance to escape. Piroska waved her hands about frantically trying to break the web, she felt herself
getting tangled deeper and deeper. To free herself she used so much of force that she could see the strong threads breaking.
She felt herself jerk out of bed, as though she had an exciting climax, waking up with a satisfied smile and finding herself
on the floor. That morning Piroska laughed aloud and overslept, having no dreams.
Three days were left for Piroska’s art exhibition.
She painted thirty small and big canvases, taking around seven months to complete her work. This time she had chosen
the sea as her theme, not that she wanted to drift away from her landscapes, but she just wanted to test her creativity as
to how far it would take her. She had booked the new Wayside inn’s art gallery, it was not a big one, but big
enough to hold small exhibitions of all kinds. Though it was called a gallery it was not one in the true sense of the
term, as she was the only blossoming artist in Lasa. The word was as fashionable cliché shion as when you look around
and find book shops being named boutiques.
Piroska, with the help of her
mother, Menaka, Bi and other close friends, put up the paintings a day earlier, not leaving anything for the last. Her
guest of honour to throw open the exhibition was kept as a secret.
“Who is it, Ma?”
“Wait and see dear,” her mother said with an amused smile at her daughter’s
it M.F.Husain, Satish Gujural Saba Hasan—Who ma, who is it?”
“Piroska, have patience, we still have one more day to go.”
“Will he be a good critic
of my work? Ma, you know that I enjoy people critiquing my work, as that helps me to work harder.” Her mother
don’t want someone who will glorify my paintings. It has to be crucified,” she muttered. Her mother
had a lot of good contacts, being a lover of art herself, though she had not tried her hand at paints, she had a strong feeling
for colours and at times she influenced her daughter on a new canvas. Piroska trusted her mother’s choice on the
guest. What would she have done without her mother, this was one person who she would never give up on. Time played
all kinds of pranks on her, it passed by her door, making her feel rejected and forlorn, but time also gave her a mother who
was very comforting during her period of illness.
On the day of the exhibition,
the day being a Sunday and the air a bit frost-bitten, Piroska wore a gorgeous rust wool kurta, layered with neat embroidered
facing and a matching shawl. She adorned her ears with delicate wooden earrings. Her hair had been brushed back
till it shone; her face with its slight make-up glowed glamorously. Sushmita Bhat eyed her daughter with envy and pride.
She felt so proud that she gave birth to this child. This baby of hers needed all God’s blessings. She had
under gone so much of pain, she needed to relax her mind and be her own self, time was playing with them. It took time
for her to reject Ashara, and she seemed not disturbed by her action. This flesh and blood of hers will surely go places
with her paintings, she had her mother’s blessings.
wished her daughter would confide to her about Yash. He would make such a good husband for her daughter. He was
the kind who would be able to gel with her likes and dislikes. She was confident that Piroska would be happy with him.
Yash did not mentioned his interest in Piroska, which made her close the subject. How she wished something would work out
for her daughter. She loved Piroska so much that at times she did not feel like parting with her. She distanced
herself so much from her husband that to reconcile with him would be impossible. She had no intentions of going back
to him. Though they shared the same bed, he hardly was present in town to sleep in it. Conversation between the
two had become so cold that they could sit next to each for hours without saying a word. Sex was a forgotten theme in
their story, though she did miss it, for she was human, but at the same time she tried to curb her sexual feelings by not
thinking about it, it was hard penance.
The drive to the inn had been one
of non-stop blabber. Piroska, with her nervousness about the guest, kept looking out of the car window, and the young
Menaka was excited about all the men she would be meeting. Menaka had always been a social bird, going for parties,
over night treks, horseback riding, hunting, anything with men and adventure suited this young blood. She was brought
up in a very liberal manner by her parents, who owned race horses and a construction company. Whether she maintained
a code in her freedom, nobody knew, but the girl got along with everyone. None of the ladies seemed to be missing the
presence of Suresh Bhat. After hearing that Ashara and Piroska broke up, he did seem not interested in attending the
exhibition, he made an exit by taking off to Manila with Sarah. His absence did not hamper anyone’s spirit, as
had he been there, Sushmita and Piroska would have felt uncomfortable under his gaze. He would have haunted them with
he would have said, is apppreciated by fools living in their own paradise. He had a special way of scorning when he
They had reached the Wayside inn an hour earlier to
arrange the last few details, and to see if all was set right. The room looked picturesque—blue skies, sunny seascapes,
a tumultuous sea, and ferocious seawinds, where one could not distinguish the sea from the sky. Piroska balanced her
work by having the dawn and the dusk on the sea surface, the involvement of the sunrise and sunset with the stretch of blue
spans of water. She captured seagulls in flight and white storks staring into the water. She showed the sea waves
in a joyous mood, you saw lonely canoes left unattended, fishing nets hung to be repaired, a beach filled with ripple marks,
sea waves engulfing small sand dunes, black rocks covered with frothy waves. As she saw each of her canvas on
display, she hoped that her long efforts would be appreciated and painting purchased.
Piroska was aware that some of her regular customers were moody and took to one standard colour. In this
display she experimented with colours and the theme was new. She felt every canvas to be bewitching. She sweated
it out to bring out the best in her talent and creativity. Her mother had been a support by allowing her to go places
having natural beauty. Sushmita Bhat always told her daughter that “your canvas should come alive. People
should feel the atmosphere of the theme created.” What her mother said was true. Piroska developed the eye to
see life in its natural element, and as she stood gazing at a picture having a shack, cane chairs and a sprawled out beach,
Menaka came shooting into the room, announcing her guest.
“Piroska, hurry your mother is calling you.” Menaka did not mention
anyone’s name; she just caught Piroska’s hand requesting her to hurry
Piroska composed her nervous self, brushed back her hair and walked out of the room,
knocking the marble flooring with her low heels. As she approached the glass door of the inn, her eyes caught sight
of a blue Cielo passing. She got a knot in her stomach; the car seemed very familiar. She reached the door and
could not charge back, as her feet got fixed to the floor. However much she tried to lift her feet, they would not move;
they seemed paralysed. She felt as though her world had come to an end. Her lips started to quiver and she got
goose pimples all over her body. She wished an angel would descend and lift her to heaven. Piroska stared at her
guest, transfixed by his deadly presence, he seemed changed, his hair had greyed and he looked mature. She felt Menaka
nudge her from behind, and she had no choice but to move towards her divorced ex-husband, Ashok
He had a cynical look, the same wild look he had when he made love to her in Athens on a new moon’s night.
He looked the same in his well-tailored clothes. His lips wavered to a sly grin and she knew not what to do. Sushmita
watched her daughter’s tense face, afraid the young lass would break and weep. She waited to see Piroska’s
next move. She felt that the positive side of Piroska would ooze out if she dealt with the situation with care, then
she had won a battle. If Piroska broke down as she had when she saw Ashok on the day of the divorce, then it meant that
her baby did not got over her past. Not that she expected her daughter to forget everything, as that would not be human.
Had she forgotten Raj? No, and she would never be able to do so. She understood that both had different histories,
where Piroska had suffered the most in her own way. She clenched her fists as she saw her daughter walk elegantly up
to her guest. She prayed that she would not be abusive and throw a tantrum; a sudden feeling of insecurity ran through
her. “Has she made a mistake,” she asked herself, watching her daughter walking with her head held high.
The only movement that the bewildered Piroska could manage was to smile and lead her
guest into the gallery, where every painting was highlighted by small lights. She felt uncomfortable upon seeing him,
but a fleeting wave of courage came to her when she looked at her mother. She had done this for her sake, and even though
she wanted to misbehave, she could not, as she owed it to her mother. Apart from her mother, she gained an inner confidence
to confront all kinds of miseries. Piroska felt that this confidence that she got was somewhat related to her nightmare.
The impact had been good enough to wash away her nearness to all relationships. This Ashok, who stood in front of her,
was no one of importance to her, he was just her guest, and guests had to be treated with care. She was amazed at the
way she was carrying herself.
Among claps and applause the exhibition had
been thrown open. Piroska had to tag behind Ashok’s slow gait as he inspected each canvas with a patient hawk
eyed look. He spoke few words to her—just a little need of an extra blue, or an extra brush of this colour, sometimes
he found certain angles were not proportioned or a view needed to be highlighted. He spoke in such low tones that Piroska
had to lean close to him, smelling the familiar smell, and for a spilt second she felt giddy. The sudden voice of Menaka
got her back to reality. How could she think about this man’s smell, his sweat suddenly smelled of betrayal. He
smelled of his lover, the woman who laid beneath, laughing in a glorious manner. It was a mistake, she was not getting
turned on by his closeness, but the stink of the past repulsed her. She started to feel uneasy, and maybe Sushmita Bhat,
sensing her daughter’s state, reached out to her by clasping her hand. No sooner had the fingers wound around
each other that Piroska relaxed her tense face. For a second she needed the support, and then jerked her mother’s
hand away. Sushmita could have jumped with joy at being pushed aside, her baby was getting tough and she liked this
change in her.
After viewing the entire scene, Ashok got into conversation
with Menaka and Sushmita. She over heard him telling them that this exhibition was a feast for the eyes as it had showed
good brush-work. It showed that Piroska had full control of her theme, texture, mood and style. He went on to
say that, “every subject and composition was different.” A critic generally spoke for himself, but in the
case of Ashok, he knew the kind of women she was. It made the artist happy. Piroska engaged herself, talking to
her customers and friends. Many a times her glance went in the direction of her ex husband, she was annoyed that he
never asked a word about her. She wondered if he felt the same? She wanted to ask him about the next-door friend
and, of course, about his dear Manasi. He caught her looking at him and managed to throw a smile in her direction.
She felt ashamed at her thoughts. He had been her husband for eight months and she had loved him. There was still
some stray amount of affection felt for him. He betrayed her and she hated him for it but, as a person, Ashok was very
good. He had always taken care of all her needs and had helped her to set up her small painting den, where she had painted
just two canvases of the dwindling sunset for their bedroom. He had made her feel comfortable in his mother’s
presence. Being an avid reader of literature, both could understand some of the concepts of life—and when they
did not agree it used to be sweet war.
Piroska did not have the courage
to have a decent conversation with him, though she truly felt like having a show down. She wanted to question him, WHY?
She watched her mother introducing Ashok to the guests. Pirsoka knew that the Bhat social circle would be buzzing with
gossip. They would not understood why Ashok had been called as the guest, nor would they be able to confront the closed-lipped
woman—her mother. Piroska wondered how Ashok had consented to come after two whole years had passed after their
divorce, and how her mother had managed to get him here in Lasa. She was going to ask her, once the sun had set its
Ashok did not stay on for lunch, much to the relief of Piroska.
But he did something crazy outside where his car was parked. He gave her a quick kiss and told her that he was sorry
for what he had done to her. He gave her no chance to speak as he drove away with her favourite canvas of the sea, the
shack and the cane chairs. Piroska looked at her mother as she felt her cheek, “Life is weird, ma” and sobbed
in her mother’s arms.
Menaka, who got the glimpse of the scene, withdrew
back like a sly fox. She went inside the gallery and kept the remaining few guests entertained. Not having any
background of Piroska’s marriage, she became a bit upset with her aunt for inviting Ashok, as it had upset her cousin.
She made up her mind not to talk about him as she had no wish to encroach on a subject that would hurt her cousin. Menaka
never asked Piroska about her divorce, but had heard that they got divorced because they could not get along. She had
wondered how anyone could not vibe with Pirsoka. She was not the kind that anyone would dislike. She was happy
when she heard that Piroska’s engagement was called off with Ashara. That man bugged her soul right from the day
she was introduced to him. He reminded her of a mouse that needed some feed to look alive, he had such a doped look
all the time. She wondered how Uncle Suresh liked him, especially when he moved in such fashionable company of the rich
and the snobs. Her uncle did not realise that he would never find a Sushmita in his mistress Sarah. The woman
had glamour but no substance in her, she was hollow from within, and was in the habit of squeezing the rich. Today it
was Uncle Suresh, tomorrow, if she got bored with him, then it would be someone else. Though her uncle knew all about
her, he stuck to her like a glue stick. She never could understand men, even some that she kept company with.
Menaka looked around at the paintings, almost all of them had been picked. She
saw that her cousin had a keen artistic eye and revealed an intense sensitivity for whatever theme she painted. Her
visitors praised her work. When you read through some of the paintings, it showed emotions and uncertainties that existed
in the artist’s subconscious. It told the viewer a story. Piroska had a colourful imagination, whether it
was the sea or the towering mountains—everything came alive with her brush. Menaka felt that her cousin needed
this appreciation, as she had worked hard on each piece and was a sincere artist.
That evening Piroska did not return home along with her mother and Menaka. Since she needed breathing space,
her mother did not insist on joining them. Sushmita on her own realised that Piroska had a lot of thinking to do.
This exhibition opened doors for her and made her meet new people. Many of the guests made references to her talent.
The choice of closing and opening new doors lay entirely in her hands. If she decided to shut all doors, then she would
have to live in the dark. However, if sensible, she had a dynamic future with people wanting to support her art and
it’s themes. Though Piroska’s themes were common, they were divine in their own way.
They were paintings where one could stand and stare for a long while, as there oozed with the smell of flowers,
her landscapes were bright and sensuous, her mountain valleys were deep and dangerous, her twilight had the touch of purple
hue, she got life in her dawns, her small streams seemed to ripple with joy—she could go on with her daughter’s
world of colours. Sushmita was thankful to have given birth to just one child, her second had been a blue baby who did
not survive for many days and after that she could not conceive. She was sad then but today she was happy with this
child, who gave her more happiness than her husband did.
She felt sure that
that her daughter had tried to get out of her psychological doldrums. The way she conducted herself with Ashok was amazing.
What Piroska needed was to set her life on a blanched platform, as these last two years she seemed to be sitting on a see
saw, where she went up and down. She never gave herself a chance to think positive as she spent all her time mourning
about the past. At times Sushmita felt like walloping her till all her sorrows turned black and blue. Piroska
found a cosy enclave in the mountains, where she used to sit for hours lost in dreams, and Sushmita told her many a time to
avoid the mossy place, as it’s dampness added more to her grief, but Piroska never listened to her mother.
This was the place where she felt comfortable thinking about Yash. Sushmita realised
in the last six months she had shown a great deal of improvement in her work—the Goa trip had done it all. Sushimta
Bhat kept her fingers crossed as she got into the car. She prayed that things would move in a positive direction for
her daughter. Even if she did not get married, she could shine in the art world, sometimes she felt marriage to was
a social binding or a long termed contract—what happened to her marriage??? She could not even get out of it’s
damned clutches, as she was tied down to it like a prisoner. In no way did she want her daughter to face an unsettled
After seeing her mother and cousin off, Piroska walked down to her
den. Her remaining five paintings that had not been sold were sent with Bi and Sam, her gardener in the office, Tata
Sierra. It was a pleasant walk of twenty minutes. The sun was not yet preparing itself to set, the autumn leaves
shone like golden leaves in the dying light. The “winnowing wind” was playing with her black tresses, and
she liked the coolness of it’s touch. She felt her spirits high, as this exhibition had done her a world of good.
She enjoyed the compliments that were bestowed on her. Many of her friends advised
her not to waste her sense for creativity. She was given a superb offer to supply her works to the Viper chains of five-star
hotels, which were hotels in the Mediterranean countries. An old friend of her father’s promised to sponsor her
next exhibition in Bangalore. What more support did she need to boost her morale? Many of the newcomers requested
her to make duplications of what had been sold out; this was not possible, as to recreate an image for her was difficult.
She experimented once, but it never synchronised with the original form.
man she appreciated the most was a Jewish art critic, Mr. Cohen, a friend of her mother and her agent. He was an old
chap, sporting a French beard with the heart of young man; he never looked his age of seventy. He had an upright walk,
polished manners like an English count, he spoke excellent English and had a flirtatious nature. He comfortably slipped
his strong hands around her small trim waist and looked so with the pipe stuck stylishly at the corner of his mouth. He guided
Piroska from one canvas to the other.
He stopped by each canvas and with
his Jewish deep set eyes, finding fault in everything he saw. He found some canvases to have gaudy colours, some to
be dull or too bright, on some of the canvas he found her vision of an image not so clear, it was not concrete. He evaluated
her work like an examiner would do a math paper. Though he criticised her work, at the same time he gave tips as to
how she could improve on her brush strokes and gave her a small pep talk on the blending of colours, and at times he told
her why he did not like modern art. For him some of the modern artists came through in a very sluggish manner, and some
he felt got away with having just a line drawn across the canvas. According to him, an artist should make his painting be
felt to the audience, it should have an inner sensibility. When you see an image, it should be felt.
Piroska at moments found him to be very critical, but she liked his frankness and his enthusiasm to advise her.
This evaluation helped her to look at her work from a different angle. He spoke in low tones, nearly in whispers so
that no one would hear what he was saying to her. He stayed for two hours, and his short stay lifted her spirits.
She had noticed that he spent some time with her mother and both seemed to have been in a serious conversation, at times looking
in her direction. She ignored the glances, though she was curious to know what they had been talking about. She
hoped her mother was not saying anything about her past to him, she would like to keep her past a secret, as it was something
that should not be abused. As she walked lazily, thinking of what various folks told her, she missed someone’s
presence at the exhibition—her father's.
Whatever resentment she felt
for her father, however afraid she had been of his dominant presence, yet had he been present, he would have completed the
family circle. Though her mother had avoided his company at home, in public she was a good actress, pretending to be
in love with him and ignored people around who were well aware of Sarah. As Piroska kicked a stone on the road and watched
it stumble and roll, she thought about Sarah. How long was this relationship going to last? She was much younger
than he, and the day would come when she would get bored with his company—then what? Would her jilted mother accept
her husband again? Her mother had a soft heart, but whether she would bend to Suresh Bhat was something Piroska could
not tell. Coming back to her mother was not possible. What if she gave him a chance to start on a new slate, would
he improve? Piroska doubted that, as he had a soft spot for the beautiful woman. She felt sorry for her mother.
What would she do if she got married again? She would be so broken hearted to be drifted from her daughter.
Thinking about her mother, Piroska came to an understanding with herself that she was
not the only one suffering - so was her mother. Piroska had a past to cry upon while her mother had to weep for the
present. Piroska felt like a decayed worm when she started thinking as to how she had poured her woes on to her mother,
not once giving a thought about the waned-out relation with her father. In spite of all that her mother had suffered,
this woman stood by her thick and thin. What face value did Piroska Bhat even have to lament over her past? If
she wanted to, she could have changed and gone way ahead in life, instead of brooding about an incestuous relationship that
may not have even taken place. Tears of regret rolled down her face, which she wiped with haste. These goddamn
tears had wasted her whole two years getting holed up in dark caves and dens. It was time she did away with these shining
dewdrops that trickled so easily down her pretty face. She had to decide what she wanted in life, happiness or misery.
She had been a real sponge, squeezing sympathy and emotions from her mother—and here was a woman who never seemed to
need a shoulder to weep. Some where she had to put her foot down or she should hang herself like a coward from the nearest
treetop. If at all life meant living, then she better live it the way she should. How many times her mind lectured
her, but she could not follow it.
As she neared her den, she saw Bi sitting
outside on the steps waiting for her to return the den keys, Sam must have taken the car back to the office. He gave
a big grin, as she paid him a handsome sum for doing all the work and for taking care of her canvas, and he scooted towards
the market to buy his candy floss. What a help this boy was to her, if only he could ask his father the description
of the man who had given the opium flowers.
She opened the den door and
found the place in a mess. It was in a dignified chaotic state, as the place was scattered with unwashed paint brushes,
dried up palletes, open paint tubes and bottles, rags of cloth and an unfinished canvas of a foamy cloud. She remembered
a few lines from Shelley’s poem “Cloud” which said, “I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.” She hoped that the day would come when she would be a cloud, and where her art would
always remain alive for the future artist to gaze, and for this kind of an ambitious thought she had to survive with a positive
approach. Her place smelled of turpentine and dry paint. She felt at home with all these things lying around,
as it reminded her of her confused mind, which she believed she was setting right.
her other painting materials felt that she had a vision for natural beauty and was born an artist. Piroska then seemed
as though all the inanimate objects had come to life, it seemed like the tale of the fairy in the Shoemaker’s house
where all the shoes come alive. Each one in her den wanted to tell that she had an identity of her own, and that she
did not belong to anybody. The room seemed to be echoing with different voices where one voice wanted to topple the
other. The buzz was unbearable for her, and she got up frightened, looking about for the noise in the room, but everything
seemed quiet and dead.
Feeling stifled in the room she decided to venture
out into the cool evening. She changed into her painting overalls, as she had nothing else to wear and wore her comfortable
leather moccasins. Nobody would be around to feel disgusted with her attire that had dry paint on it. It did not
seem too late to go for a walk, as nothing in Lasa was dangerous after sunset, you were only afraid of a wild animal straying
on the road, and this rarely happened. She heard of a she-wolf that had mauled a few children who went berry picking
in the woods and had trespassed near the wolf’s den. Any animal taken unaware would attack; after that story she
had not heard of any other. Piroska stepped out of the house, and she witnessed the red ball gently glide down behind
the mountains, it seemed as though a huge casement had opened to swallow this fireball, leaving behind a reddish tinge. Every
time she watched the sunset, it looked different. It was always surrounded by changing colours. Watching it ease into
the hollow of the earth, she wondered—why did she not have such a compartment to gulp her miseries?
Piroska walked down the untarred road in a lazy gait with her hands tucked in her pocket. She could hear
the birds twitter in the branches. The not-so-blue skies looked so gentle and at ease. They seemed as though they
had no troubles and tensions like she did. She wished she could carry a canvas and paint it while she walked.
The evening shadows made an abstract picture with the yellow autumn leaves on the ground. She liked the crunchy feel
of the dry leaves under her feet. If life was always like this, she would be so gay.
Ashok drove down the Lasa highway in a sporting mood; he was
humming Bob Marley’s “no woman, no cry.” It had been a treat to see Piroska again. The frightened
look on her face upon seeing him had eased out in a fraction, making her seem to be as calm as a millpond. Her feet,
which seemed to have got stuck to the floor, got unfastened in no time when she had moved towards him as though she was not
effected by his presence. Piroska’s handshake was firm and unwavering. She made him feel like a guest not
going out of the specific conversation. That non-interested kind of obligation irritated him. She seemed to have
matured over the last two years, yet not losing out on her charming face. It still glowed like a fresh spring flower.
You would never dream that she had suffered from a psychological drain, having a miscarriage and having nearly given up on
her paintings, as to him, she looked as fit as a fiddle, and for a second he wondered if Sushmita Bhat pulled a fast one on
He remembered the day he received an e-mail from Sushmita Bhat, requesting
him to come as a chief guest for Piroska’s exhibition. He found the invitation weird and declined it without giving
it a second thought. He did not want to be made a fool in front of strangers, and if Sushimita Bhat thought that this
was the way for her to get even with him, she was mistaken. What happened between him and his wife was history, and
he had no intention of raking old memories. He did miss her, but he was aware that nothing could heal the open wound,
as she would never come back to him; he was a bastard. In these two years he didn't hear from her nor from her mother,
so this mail after a long gap had set him thinking.
Sushmita made the situation
more difficult for him by arriving at Lasa. She wanted to meet him on any condition at the Las Palmas coffee shop, she
said it had to do with Piroska, which made him go. Sushmita was another Piroska, her streaks of grey hair made her look
no different; she was elegant and soft-spoken. Sitting in front of her, Ashok wondered how much she must be hating him,
even if she did, she did not show it. She came to Sangeela for a reason. If Ashok had no feeling left for his
ex-wife, he would have told his ma-in-law to get lost a long time ago. Looking at Sushmita itself made him stay back.
She had a purpose for sending him the invitation. Whatever she spoke out about
Piroska baffled him. It hurt him to know that he was the cause of her mental trauma. The divorce was a nerve-breaking
experience for her, it was a betrayal, leaving her deserted and forsaken. She became a pessimist, avoiding her passion
for painting. It broke Sushmita to see her daughter wither in this manner. She told him how in Lasa the upper
strata had become judgmental about her divorce, making her feel more insecure. The locals did not bother once it had
been told to them that she left her husband. The big wigs had all the time for gossip. It saddened Ashok’s
heart when he heard that Piroska had a miscarriage. It was a secret with them, as one had been afraid of the Madonna’s
She told him how in due course she picked up her paints and built
up the courage to break an unwanted engagement. She wanted Ashok to be present for the exhibition, because she wanted
her child to give in to the past and live for the future. Since she had not gotten over Ashok, she wanted him to come
and see how she would react. She clarified her stand by saying that she was not getting any sadistic pleasures, but
her own intuitive mind said that such an arrangement would work. She gave him some time to decide.
Ashok thought over it for a long time, the negative effects on her would break her down and he did not want to
be the cause of another mishap. His next door neighbour got excited when she heard about the exhibition and urged him
to go for it, she was sure that Piroska was a stable-minded girl and would be able to handle the situation smoothly.
After two weeks of thinking, he called Sushmita Bhat, telling her that he would be present at Lasa for the exhibition.
As the sun started to settle itself in the womb of the mountains and as its amber colour
merged with the blue skies, Ashok gave a thought to his past. It had been a comfortable one. Both had not been
in the habit of suffocating each other as enough breathing space existed. Due to this one led a balanced life with the
tantrums of Manasi being shadowed. Yet whenever they had arguments about the concept of the mother fixation, Ashok tended
to keep himself away from the discussion. He just could not come to terms with her logic, saying that no one should
have this fixation. She never browsed the topic directly, but directly. He always felt that she got sadistic pleasures
in needling him, and enjoyed making him squirm on a subject that was delicate for him to relate to. There were moments
when he felt like dumping her in a dry well. Apart from this they shared a tension-free life, having their own individualistic
views. He felt sad that she could not do much with her paintings, as Manasi was against it. That women at times
behaved possessed, she never realised that all human beings had some different talents, everyone could not be like her, signing
documents and contracts. The very fact that Piroska was not interested in her father’s business showed that she was
different. Manasi had literally closed her world of art. When he did manage to set up a room for her painting,
it had been time for the drama of the divorce.
at the gallery made him repent for what he did to her. His love for her had not changed; it still remained the same.
Her smell intoxicated him, and he wanted to reach out and kiss her till she fainted with exhaustion. He had this urge
to push her onto the red carpet and make her rock him like a rocking chair, she loved to be on top, gyrating on him like a
belly dancer. It made it easier for him to suckle at her tender parts. He remembered their first night and laughed
aloud what a kitten she had been, but over the months her claws grew into a full-grown cat, making him relax while she did
the needful. He wondered what her reaction was when he plopped that fleeting kiss on her cheek. He knew that would
be his last kiss. Getting Piroska back would never be possible, she had come into his life like a dream, and then the
dream world got shattered with a nightmare. The blackness of his fantasy world was worse than the gates of hell.
He had to forget Piroska and start anew. Marriage for him was out of bounds, as any woman he married, Manasi would haunt her.
He had to get rid of the Madonna if he wanted to settle in life.
it out once by shifting with his bag and baggage into his neighbour's house after returning from the Nicobar Island.
He decided to keep away from her. She watched him pack his things without uttering a word. He did not even hear
a sniff when he walked out of the wooden teak door. He was taken aback with her behaviour, at such times he never trusted
her, as she had plans curled up in her sleeves. She ignored him in the office and pretended that he did not exist, her
moves were so directed that both of them had given the office folks something juicy to gossip about. If ever they crossed
each other's paths, then he was given blank dead stares, as though he were a robot. He tried not to get disturbed by
the way she behaved, though it hurt him. This was the way of hitting back at him by bating him with her silence.
Thankfully, she had not terminated him from all his expenses, he continued to live his normal life, though a fear did cling
onto him when he thought of her playing dirty. If such a day did arrive, then he would have to fend for himself.
Staying at the next-door neighbour's house made him feel as though he were at his own
home. She never made him feel vexed. In his free time he would help her in her work and see the deliverance of
her work to its respected customers. In due cause he discovered that his friend had a female lover. The relation
made no difference to him, if she felt snug in the company of her own sex. Her partner was an average looking babe having
a great body and a husky voice that would make any man melt. She was an architect, having a fascination for good construction.
The combination of the two was odd, and he wondered as to how they got along.
two women never felt shy cooing in front of Ashok, they smacked kisses in front of him as though he were used to it.
He used to hear them giggle in the shower and moan in their bedroom. He was afraid of seeing them make love. The whole
function of two female bodies coming together itself seemed alien. He had watched films on lesbianism and it had
never excited him. He always wondered what kind of a satisfaction they got during their climaxes. A day did arrive when
the other woman started to make passes at him in the absence of her friend, and that frightened him to no limit. If
she sat next to him, she would caress his knees as though it stirred her blood. It repulsed him, and at such times he
pushed her hand aside. She use to laugh whenever he did that.
“Stop it Jiti, I don’t like it,” he use to scowl at her.
“What a bore you are,”
she used to mourn.
do not think Madam will like what you are doing.”
“Why do you call her Madam. She does not run a whore house young man, she has a
went a bit further when she stood at his bathroom door, watching him have a bath. Having caught sight of her reflection
in the mirror, he did not know how to react. His death-like face made her laugh in a low, husky tone. She wanted
to tease him in a sadistic way. She became overbearing like Manasi, and it irked him that he could do nothing to get
her to lay off. The day did come when he had to pack his bags in a hurry and make his way back to his house when Jiti
was lying stark naked like a harvested apple tree on his bed. He did not want to report this to his friend, and to avoid
any complication he walked back to his own house. He left a message for his friend, “missing Madonna hence going
back,” she would understand.
No questions were asked when he returned
back home. To Manasi it seemed as though she won the battle, as she walked around the house with a pompous look.
As he drove, remembering those days, he realised that he could not do anything without making a decision about his mother.
Whatever she was, he loved her dearly and she was going to be his cause of ruin. There would be no way to change his
mind and his obsessions with her. He did not want to justify himself; he just wanted to lead his life the way it was.
Right now he had no one to please or to take care of, due to which he could lead his own life style. The world around
would not be aware of what he was, and his ex-wife would be too ashamed to mention his deeds. This protected, secured
self made him feel happy. This indirect blackmailing of keeping Piroska quiet made him giddy. No one would know
about his dark secret. If people doubted, then they could not really find out the truth, as he had trust in the people
who knew about him.
Piroska sat, looking at the wilderness around
her. Darkness was wrapping its wings around nature as a protective shield. She would have loved to wait longer
and watch the glow-worms filter their light around in the darkness, but she dared not stay on, as she had come a little further
away from her den. The road she had to follow back was untarred, and she had no wish to have a broken ankle, as no one
would be around to save her.
That night she would have to spend in her den,
as she had not asked for the car to be sent back. Spending the night in her den gave her a peace of mind, it was a small
peaceful heaven for her where no one bothered her. It had a well-stocked refrigerator to keep her going for a week.
Her mother made the right choice of finding her an isolated joint, which made her to concentrate on her work without any outside
Piroska lingered a little longer in the cold air, and taking
a deep breath of the crisp air, she huddled back home with her hands sunk deep into her pockets. She sighted her mother’s
car outside her den and wondered why she had come. She was in no mood to entertain her mother. She had wanted
to be alone, as she was tired mentally and physically, and had wanted to snuggle into her dream world. She wondered
what her mother had come to explain. If it was about Ashok, then she did not want to hear about it. If it was
praise for the way she handled Ashok, she did not want to hear of it. Piroska felt that she had out grown her miseries.
In these last six months she realised it was not worth harping on her past life. She made up her mind to develop her
own self interest and to motivate her self-esteem. Thus she put her whole self into painting and going to the gym to
shed off the fat saddlebags that she put on. She wanted to relive life again.
entered the brightly-lit house with these positive thoughts and found her mother cosily sitting with Yash sipping hot café.
How on earth did her mother know Yash? Why had she never mentioned his name to him? How long had they known each
other? It seemed for donkeys’ years at the way they sat, having sips of coffee. Piroska could not take her
eyes off from the man who stepped into her dreams every now and then. Here was the man who gave her wet dreams, making
her blush in her sleep. She tried to hide the softness from her face by straightening her shoulder blades. The
cynical smile appeared on his lips. That smirk was enough to set her heart beating loudly. His presence made her
go back to Goa. Its exquisite beaches, the old architecture, churches, cafes and seafood haunted her. Many a time
in her reverie she seemed to have walked down from Sinquerim to Anjuna and was fascinated by the yuppies in they natural garb.
The wild water of the untampered beaches and its frothy waves trying to reach the skies had a divine motive. Though
she had been to other beach resorts, like the Konkan corner, Mahabalipuram, Cochin, Varkala, etc., Goa, maybe because of Yash,
stayed longer in her mind. On seeing her daughter’s confused face, Sushmita introduced Yash to her. Since
she did not want to pretend she told her mother that she met him in Goa. Nothing more was asked about their meeting.
To her astonishment she was told that Yash was her art dealer. How had it not struck
her about his familiarity, the way he knew her name. Not once did he mention her work. Gosh! He sure was
a good actor. He came over to Lasa to make her take part in the yearly contemporary art competition. This year
the theme was on the sun, and he was sure Piroska would do justice to the topic.
“It was during my last year in college that I took part in an art competition,
and now I feel I have no confidence,” she told Yash glumly.
“Confidence blooms if you make an effort; if you tend to sit back and wait for
it to arrive at your doorsteps it will not,” he said with some feelings.
“I am tired now, as I have done an exhibition and have no imagination left.”
“An artist needs no time
to think, as her imagination is constantly working and observing scenes around her. You live in a beautiful surrounding
that has a varied amount of moods; I am sure, Piroska, you can do it.” She did not give an answer immediately.
She thought he would propose to her. Instead he came with some other motive. She was aware that if she did put
her whole mind into painting, she would come out with something good.
“What have you decided?” he anxiously asked. She gave him a blank stare
and turned her face to her mother who had remained quiet all this time. What tricks was her mother was up to, she wondered.
It was first her divorced husband whom she tolerated, and now she got her dream boy to make a proposal for her to take part
in the competition. What exactly was her mother trying to get at? Was she torturing her in some way? Didn’t
she have enough problems? Piroska suddenly thought of her new resolutions and decided to take part in the competition.
She wondered why Yash was interested
in her taking part in the exhibition. Where had he been all these months? He had not even bothered with her existence,
nor had he made an appearance for her exhibition. What kind of an art dealer was one who did not care to attend his
client’s display? Had he deliberately kept away? And why did he do so? She had an answer for her own
question. Would it have been possible for her to take care of Yash and Ashok at the same time?
Both men had become a part of her life. Ashok at one stage of their married life had her pulses racing,
though after her divorce she did not abhor him completely, as she thought she did. Yash had been an experience—a
memory never to be forgotten and a reverie that he always wanted to live in. She confronted Yash’s steady gaze comfortably
and wondered why her mother had encroached upon her privacy. Sometimes her mother’s overbearing decisions infuriated
her. She felt like telling both of them to leave. Her mind was boiling like a vegetable soup. She did not
realise that her inner agitation came forth as a frown on her face. Her face looked like a wrinkled tomato.
broke into her silent mind.
“Your exhibition this time showed an enthusiasm that burst with energy. The work displayed showed
talent and sincerity.” His visit to her exhibition came as a surprise. When had the wolf made his presence?
It seemed as though he had read her mind.
“The day before the exhibition, I got the manager to open the gallery, with your mother’s permission,
of course,” he added.
Piroska reeled with anger and her spontaneous outbreak made her shiver.
“With my mother’s permission, when the exhibition
was mine. How could you—Ma?”
Tears clung to her eyelids, which did not drop down when she saw Yash smiling at her.
Her mother consoled her by saying, “Does it make any difference who gave him the permission, you or me?
Yash, is your dealer Piroska—he is no stranger to us.”
sentence was enough to let her mind rest with a question. What had Yash confided to her mother? She looked at
Yash, who gave her a blank stare like a calm sea that had no ripple.
“It does to me, Ma. The exhibition was mine, and you are aware how superstitious
I am about exhibiting my work before the real day. Why do you tend to always hurt me? Yash may be your friend,
but did you ever tell me that he was my art dealer? Did you allow me to discuss my work with him? Did you permit
him to talk to me about my canvas sale, the response from art lovers? Never! You kept him in the dark, like a
fetus that yet had to be born.
“I had my own reasons, Piroska,” her mother said calmly, not showing any signs of irritation at her
daughter’s sudden outburst.
“Reasons, reasons and reasons, could you and Yash leave my den? I want to be left in peace.
I want to be on my own. I do not want anyone to trespass on my thoughts. I want my loneliness,” she screamed
aloud. Her mother rose half hearted to leave the room.
“Before I take your sweet leave, young one, I would advise you to think about the
exhibition. It will do a world of good to you and to your fiery emotions.”
“I will think about it,” she said, broodingly.
Who the hell was he to tell her how she should occupy herself? All of them wanted to interfere in her life. Thankfully
her father was not on the scene to pass his comments. These folks put her back into her pensive mood. How she
wanted to flee like a migrating bird to another land.
cut across like a sharp-edged knife, “Well, it is your choice. You have thirty days at hand. Do not spend
your time debating. Did Mr. Cohen not brief you about your work yesterday? He told me that he was impressed with
your work. What kind of confidence do you need now? You saw your paintings being sold and your back being patted
with praise. What do you fear now? All your past seemed to have been washed away by the silvery water, which once
rushed around you like a whirlpool, sucking you in. Yet, you survived—thanks to this lady sitting here.
You have a colourful future, then why don’t you take the plunge?”
“Piroska, I know you must be wondering what I know about your past. I used
to promote Ashok’s next-door neighbour’s pots. We became friends at a party. I was aware of Ashok’s
fascination for older women and he had this weird craze for his Madonna. To what extent this fixation drew him, I was
not aware. Your marriage was so sudden that I could not send a warning to Sushmita Bhat, nor did I tell her about it.
I thought with such a brilliant wife, Ashok would see sense. Looks like he did not with your illness and the divorce.
Why you divorced Ashok I don’t know, nor am I interested. I could not figure out what was wrong with you on the
beach when you collapsed. I just want you to take your work seriously and dive into the art world. I have nothing
else to say. Send the remaining canvases to my hotel tomorrow.” He left with a stern look, not looking back
at her again.
As the taillight of the powerful machine disappeared behind
the curve, Piroska stood staring like a robot at the dark road. She was confused. Her emotions showed signs of
anger and apathy. She had been rude and unreasonable to her mother, and at this moment she decided she would take part
in the coming exhibition. Yash has spoken the truth. The past cannot be dragged everywhere. To live one
has to go ahead. Yet, his presence annoyed her, was it because of the cool manner that he spoke in? Was it because
he showed no signs of excitement upon seeing her? He just had a glazed fixed look, which she was unable to read.
Why did he not ask her out for lunch, as he was staying in Lasa for an extra day? Yash would never give her another
signal; he was not the type who would go chasing woman who had refused his proposal once.
She slammed the door shut and leaned against, it staring at her scattered things. He did not seem to mind
the mess, as he had sat with his usual ease on her cane chair. Suddenly a small nerve burst inside her, making her slump
down on the floor and weep. She wept aloud for the inanimate objects in her room to hear, for the wind that breezed
through her open window, for the half-crescent moon and the galaxy of stars to feel her sorrow. She didn’t know
why she could not overcome her deep-rooted sorrow. Was it because she could not handle the situation? Far away
a hyena joined in her howling. Life was one big mess, or was it she that made the situation complicated.
Piroska returned home the next morning and discovered that her mother had gone out with
Yash to the tea factory. She wondered what work Yash had at the factory. She did not venture out that day, afraid
of bumping into Yash. She did not need an invitation just for the sake of it. The five canvases had been delivered
to the hotel. She was sure Yash would find good customers for them.
waited for her mother till late in the evening. She wondered what her mother was doing with Yash for so long.
Loosing her patience, she packed her bag with few clothes and left a message, saying that she would be at the den for the
next few days and no one should disturb her. She requested her mother to tell Yash that she would be interested in taking
part in the exhibition. Feeling sad, not being able to see Yash, she drove down in her car and stopped by at Bi’s
shack, asking him to be present at the den for the next ten days at 5 am.
mood seem to have brightened up, as she stopped her car to watch this huge flaming mass that curtained the sky with its brown-red
rays. She gazed at this powerful strength as it dipped down into the arms of mother earth. A sudden idea struck
her. She was going to disfigure this mighty power on her canvas. She was going to make it look ghastly and powerless
like Samson with his hair cut. It gave her a thrill when she thought off the way her critics would appreciate her work.
To bring out this ambitious idea of hers, she would have to work hard and be able to get the right tones with her paints.
She had an aim to be selected among the first ten best painters. She wanted art lovers to swoon and admire her work.
Bi was at her doorsteps at 5 am sharp, whistling a mountain love song. He wondered
why his missey wanted him so early. She always seemed to be onto something. Her moods blew hot and cold like the
Lasa climate. His missey was so pretty. She had beautiful features and he wished always that someone good would
marry her. He heard stories about her broken marriage. How could anyone be so cruel to his missey. Had he
been strong and mature, he would have proposed to her. Had he not seen such stories on the television? Of course,
they were all dreams that were not possible for him, as he was just an ordinary poor shepherd boy.
Piroska and Bi drove down to the higher parts of the tea estates. She carried along her camera equipment.
The tea estates looked glorious in the morning light. The mist was lifting and these small shrubs had they own significant
beauty. Dewdrops clung to the leaves as if not wanting to evaporate. Upon seeing any beautiful scene, she abruptly
would stop the car, flinging Bi on to the dashboard. When she would see the sun waking up, she would capture the scene
of the breaking dawn through her zoom lens. The arrival of the sun was like watching a baby being born. The thin
light rays pushed the clouds aside gently, and the bright face of the sun, which looked like the seven candles in the book
of Revelation, sprang out. Bi just stood by at such moments, observing his missey’s face, which would glow like
a freshly blossomed flower.
When they returned back to the den, she would
make breakfast for both of them. Bi, at such time upon seeing his missey’s relaxed moods, would chat about his
sheep and his aggressive father, who did nothing but get drunk. Sometimes he noticed that Piroska was lost in her own
world. It was true if she was not listening to Bi, then she was thinking of colours, a silvery or greyish blue or black.
She would be sketching her wild imagination on paper. Whatever she created would leave Bi’s mouth dry.
The next ten days was spent in capturing the sunset and sunrise from behind thick trees,
across running streams, from the village temple courtyard, from the valley and from the edge of the forest. These were
times when Bi never opened his mouth, as his missey enjoyed silence. At times she asked him for his opinion on a certain
angle. Those few days had been hectic developing photographs, choosing the best ones and loosing one’s temper.
She spent hours mixing colours to match the photographs. Bi was amused when she sulked when colours could not be gell.
At such times of frustration, out went the papers that she had used. His missey
at times behaved worse than his little sister. Her tantrums made her throw things around in the room, and couple of
times he was her target.
In spite of this, he loved his Madam. She
was so pretty, like the wild flowers that grew high up in the mountains. He was so engrossed in her looks that he never
heard her when she asked him to get something.
“Bi, get me the rag, damn you,” she would yell, throwing him out of his dream. “What
are you dreaming forever? No wonder your father gets after you like a wild bull,” she would say annoyingly.
He loved to see her angry. She was so ravishing like a film heroine. The only difference was that his missey rarely
painted her face with all those fancy colours that the actresses wore. Why could he, a simple shepherd boy, not be able
to touch her flaming face?
damn you,” she hit him hard on his hand. “What kind of mood are you in?” she muttered going
back to mixing her paints.
said nothing and glumly handed over the rags.
It was not every day that Piroska and Bi went in search of the sun. At times they
both sat, just transfixed by nature’s hangover—a tired wind leaning against the trees, watching innocent looking
clouds rising from the valley and joining the clear blue skies, listening to mixed notes of the birds and the bees.
Both human beings were spellbound by the magic of nature. At these special moments Bi would slyly slant his gaze on
his missey’s face. He noticed that her eyes sparkled like the eyes of the tigress at night. She gloated
on the view ahead of her as though she was the creator, feeling proud of giving birth to what lay ahead of her.
Bi observed that, though she seemed to see the same flow of life everyday, each day his
missey had a different glisten in her eyes. Her soul seemed to trespass among the spirits of the forest and the dales.
At times her expression showed that of a hungry fox searching for food. There were times her eyes relaxed like a lioness
that had a satisfied feed. Sometimes her eyes held a confused look, like a trapped deer not knowing how to escape from
the claws of the jackals. Her face was like a motion film, expressing different moods. Bi loved the way her skin
glittered and glowed like an evening star—if only he could reach out and feel it.
In Piroska’s constant presence, Bi forgot his flock of sheep and did not miss their morning bleating.
He used to leave home before the sun woke and returned late to a silent house, greeted by Mongo, his sheep dog. Piroska
did not make an extra effort to drop him home. If she had no work and was bored of her monotonous imagination, then
she would be kind to drop him home. If she was engrossed with her canvas, Bi did not exist.
Sitting under a tree, Piroska stared at a flying butterfly. Its swooning flight reminded her of a bubbly
sea wave. She felt like running along with it, enjoying its happiness as she had done during her childhood. She
felt shy doing it now, as it would look childlike in front of Bi. Piroska recalled how she used to weep when the local
boys caught dragons and butterflies and snipped off their wings. She used to pick up the injured insect and cry, watching
it die. She had not changed over the years as tears flowed easily down her soft cheeks.
She remembered an incident when she was fourteen and slapped Bi’s elder brother (a year older than her)
for chasing a pregnant goat around the Lasa bazaar. The poor animal had collapsed, frothing at the mouth with fatigue
and blood streaming down from her backside. She had gathered a crowd as Salim howled like a spoilt brat. His father
whacked him hard calling him a “scoundrel.”
This incident reached
her father and he was livid at her uncouth behaviour. She was kept indoors for two days. It must have hurt his
ego—his daughter acting like a street urchin, she thought. When this man could not understand his wife, how could
he feel for a mute animal?
Back in Sangeela, I had been waiting patiently
for Ashok to return from Lasa. I was amused at his invitation. When he accepted it I was not surprised, as he
was very much in love with Piroska—still—my sixth sense felt that Sushmita Bhat was trying to set her scores right
with Ashok. He took the opportunity to visit Lasa, as Manasi was in the U.S. on a business trip. Things had not
changed across the hedge.
When he did return from Lasa, he came looking
jubilant. His conversation consisted of nothing but about his wonderful Piroska. He seemed to be lovesick again,
as he had been when he met her for the first time. Had Manasi been present to see her son’s happiness, she would
have been bubbling with anger. Her hot lava overflowed, spoiling everyone’s moods.
He showed me the canvas that he flicked—the scene rang a bell. He described her art exhibition in
one heavy sentence, “I felt as though I was a sea God riding on my sea horse through the different climaxes of the sea.”
He flung his arms around me, giving me a kiss, I still love the woman. Sure he did, making a bloody mess in his life.
He was such a complexed being and a difficult one to reconstruct. These kinds were lost in their own complexities and
needed constant counselling; it was difficult with him. His Madonna looked at him as a normal human being. I felt
it was she who needed to go to a psychologist.
I missed Piroska’s
company, as she was filled with rejuvenating energy. My lover was the same. She was like a horny horse in bed
- kneading my stomach, nibbling at my ear lobes and making me laugh my guts out. That was the greatest thing in bed—having
a laughing conversation with a woman with wine and gin nearby. I felt no sexual attraction towards Piroska. I
liked the way she was, cool and fresh like a country flower.
I decided to
drive down to Lasa for a day. I was apprehensive about her reaction and hence did not telephone her.
Listening to the sensational music of Robert Miles, I let out an orgasmic gasp at the beauty beholding Lasa.
Though autumn was ebbing out, winter’s deadly senile claws didn’t seem to affect this place. The trees glowed
with the halo of brown, red and green leaves. Some bared their nudity like a transparent modern hand fan. The
skies were crystal clear, and tiny dots of the flying birds could be seen.
reaching Lasa village, I was told to search for Piroska at her den. Finding the place locked, I was advised to search
for her in the mountains. I looked at the vast stretch of the mountains and thought the task impossible. Fortunately,
I met a shepherdess who led me to Piroska’s hide out. It took us an hour to reach her.
I saw her sitting on an uprooted root—gazing beyond the sunny horizon. In my breathless voice I called
out to her. She swirled, nearly losing her balance upon recognising my deep voice. “Its you,” she
screeched, charging in my direction with glee. We hugged and kissed each other like lost friends. Bi watched the
reunion with envy.
did you come? Who directed you here? Why didn’t you keep in contact?” On and on she kept firing
questions and I just stood there dumbstruck at her reaction. She looked like a teenager in her blue denim Bermudas and
a white-laced top, which showed her innocent cleavage.
She made me sit on
the root, asking Bi to offer me a glass of lemonade from the hamper. The cool, sweet liquid refreshed my fatigued body.
The walk up was tedious, as I trekked after donkeys’ years.
“What has made you visit me after two years of my divorce?”
“I always missed you,
Piroska. I had no idea of the kind of situation you would be in.”
“I seem fine, don’t I?”
“Yes, why you suddenly fled from Lasa I don’t know. Ashok had no explanation.”
‘Why should he have?”
she retorted crossly.
was afraid you would ignore me if I arrived on the scene at the time of your depression.”
“Have you arrived to sign a peace treaty for your
Piroska, do I look like a truce maker waving a white flag? I just wanted to meet you, to be with you. I came to
congratulate you for your exhibition, which was well received. The canvas that Ashok brought back reminded me of a shack
in Goa that I had visited four years back.” I saw a flicker of fright on her eyes, which I could not read through,
as she moved to the next question.
“Where did Ash keep it?”
“In his bed room. A place where he could gaze at from any direction.”
“Oh, didn’t Manasi throw a fit?”
“The Madonna is in the
she still strut around the house in her birthday suit? Does she still throw those inviting glances at Ash? Does
the wretch still go like a lamb to be smothered with kisses?” Piroska’s voice started to reach a shrill,
to which Bi came sprinting.
“Missey, are you feeling unwell?” he placed his hand on her shoulder (an action that surprised him)
and threw me a Cassicus stare.
“Yes Bi, I am fine,” she smiled through her anger, shrugging his hands away from her shoulders.
Bi stood by as if protecting her from me.
“You know why I divorced Ash? Because of that twenty-four carat bitch who I found in bed.”
She went no further as tears rolled down. I held her for the first time; she smelled like wild roses and I snuggled
her weeping face on my shoulder. She remained silent and I did not prod into her painful past. Her face for a
moment reflected a beautiful lotus whose roots had got entangled with the weeds at the bottom of the pond.
Controlling her emotions she spoke not of the past, but of the present. We walked back to the den holding
hands. Bi trudging behind us with a grumpy look. She showed me what she planned for the exhibition. I helped
her mix a few colours, which she found difficult to match her taste. We stayed awake that whole night, remembering old
you want to get married?” she asked me.
“No, I have a live in.”
“Is he good—does he really love you?”
“It’s a woman, Piroska, whom I love. We get along like coal and fire
come I did not meet her?”
“I didn’t know what your reaction would be. I was afraid of my society, but I kept all of it
aside and we decided to live together.” Piroska just gave me a queer look.
I explained to her why men did not interest me, how
I was sexually exploited by my uncle, and the reason why I gave in was because I needed the money to start my business.
“Men,” I told her, “were lustful species who were interested in the body and not the soul.”
I thought I met someone decent, but that did not last for a few years, as he married a richer woman. “Woman lovers,”
I told Piroska, “were faithful and shared more intimate relationships.”
“How did you meet?
“Look at the way I dress—in male trousers, short hair that gives me a masculine
look, she on the other hand, was divine and feminine. We met at a party and with time we realised we were in love.
Piroska, you may feel weird when I say that I enjoy it when she kisses and necks with me. The feeling of oneness was
far more satisfying than the male—I don’t think we will ever part. Our professions may be different, but
yet we share a mental balance.”
I saw no sense of shame on Piroska’s face. I suppose she understood why I had diverted my seduction
to a woman. I told her why I resented Ashok getting married to her and how ashamed I was for committing such a big mistake.
I advised her not to look back—let the past remain in the darkness.
“We have to stand on our own feet by becoming independent, whatever method we may
use. It’s a rotten world where women are always hit below the belt.” I looked at her face. She
seemed to understand.
day was enough for us; I had to drive back to Sangeela to receive my lover. I had to keep my meeting with Piroska, a
secret, as she was a jealous woman. As I drove back I felt proud for Piroska, and I was happy to go back to a woman
who set me on a combination of tenderness and fire.
Piroska looked satisfied as she gave the final touches to the canvas. The sun’s
face suddenly seemed to empower her. She felt as though her body was getting pulled into the sun’s mouth.
Her face seemed to feel an odd heat, and the disfigured might have had a hellish effect on her. She felt an alarming
heat emitting from the canvas. Her body felt as though she was performing a dance for Satan; it felt as though she were
twirling with nothing on. Her den had a demonic brightness, the body and soul seemed to be possessed. Piroska
felt as though a bulb had been fixed in the wrong socket. Something had gone wrong. Was this because she had torn
apart the earth’s most powerful element and made it look helpless and haggard?
She took a step back. Had she been hallucinating? She stared at the finished canvas, which stared
back at her making her feel uneasy. Piroska gaped at her wonderful image that she had worked on. The distorted
face of Ra looked like a raped woman hiding her face in shame. It seemed as though blood and semen had been mixed to
be smeared across the pathetic face of the sun. The scene had a horrendous effect. The rays seemed like the raped
woman’s hair tied to a pole so that she could not escape. The mouth had a gaping hole—tongue hanging out
to suck life out. The eyes looked forlorn and trapped in the enemy’s hand. Piroska shuddered at the scene
she created. What made her to do it?
As she stared at it harder and
harder she wondered whether the picture reflected herself. It reflected her complicated mind. It showed the shamed
life that she was leading. It mirrored her crucified self. She, Piroska Bhat, had no definite character.
She was ruled and reigned by others. She was dominated by her mother—trampled by her father and ignored by the
man she loved. Her life seemed to be always in a trauma. She assumed she had conquered it after confronting Ashok
at the exhibition in a sophisticated manner.
It had only been an illusion.
The past still hurt. The images of the Madonna and Ashok clung to her like second shadow. She did not get rid
of her depressive behaviour. She found herself to be guilt ridden, dejected, wretched and hopeless. Piroska stamped
her feet in despair. Hadn’t she tried to overcome all the drama in her life? Yet, she had failed.
The canvas that stood in front of her drove her mad. She had an inner urge to destroy
it. The evil voice told her that she could go ahead. Something held her back. She realised that if she got
rid of this work—then she needed to commit suicide. This work was a way to reach Yash’s heart. She
had to shrug off her psychological dependency on her mother. Where could she go? Wherever she ventured out, it
would mean to restart life again. Had she the confidence to do so?
had been watching his missey for an hour. To him she looked possessed. She looked as though she was under some
tantric spell. Hadn’t he seen the village witch remove the devil from the cursed one’s soul? She looked
evil when she cast out spirits. His missey had a similar kind of look, as she stared at the weird canvas she produced.
If the old village folk had to see it, they would have cried to the Sun God to forgive her. She dismantled the Almighty
to the position of a helpless figure. Why did his missey do it? Was this what her art had all been about?
He did not understand and sat outside whistling a mountain song. It sounded as though he was talking to the creation
of God; the silence around him looked as though all the creatures of the earth were listening to him.
I lay in bed with Jiti. Our naked bodies were twined together, like a serpent to
a tree. She stroked my breasts, creating a sensation between my thighs. As she continued with her circular movements,
I thought of confessing to her about Piroska. I was scared of her reaction. She was a dynamite of her own kind.
She heard and saw pictures of Piroska and associated her with Ash’s wife.
I never mentioned to her about the umpteen times that Piroska had spent in this house. Since I loved Jiti dearly, I
had no intention of causing a rift in our relationship. She was the only one I could depend on. I felt my breasts
being kneaded and sucked.
Everyone accepted the fact that two spinsters
lived together. Men rarely approached me sexually because of my masculine structure. Jiti was bisexual and she had a
great body to please any man.
Marriage had never been on my agenda, though
it had been before I was abused. I had a dream like any woman to have a husband, a house and children but now I was
away from it. I did not believe in the fact that a woman was complete after being a mother. My success had made
me a complete woman and I needed nothing else. We women, I felt, lived in a psychological, mythological world—where
a man was needed to satisfy our sexual deeds—but I found a woman to be more potent and powerful. I turned Jiti
underneath me and kissed her for half an hour. We were intensely and emotionally involved. I substituted as a
man, I suppose, for her. We climaxed as any woman and man would under normal circumstances. The feeling was great.
As Jiti snuggled off to sleep, I gazed at the ceiling, thinking about Piroska.
I definitely had been aroused by her for that spilt second when she wept on my shoulders. After that I felt no attraction
to her. I wanted her as a friend, as she could relate to my world of art. My partner did not, as she lived on
a different plane. Her plane was straight and diagonal lines that bored my eyesight. I could not relate to the
concrete jungle that she kept jabbering about.
I hoped that Piroska would
find herself a kind man, as Ashok caused an earthquake in her life. Men were suckers, I firmly believed. They
lacked the emotions of a woman. I realised that her streaks of pain still hounded her. I hoped she would not force
herself with someone on the rebound. She had her mother, who supported her in all her sorrow and grief. I felt
sad when she remarked that she could not bear children. I saw a tear glisten in her eyes and fade away like a shooting
star. I wondered if it would ever fade away the dark patches in her life, as it to clung on like a parasite. Maybe one
day, if her painting reached its peak, she would be a self-satisfied woman.
thought of Bi, the shepherd boy. He seemed to be over protective and possessive about Piroska. I was sure this
rugged mountain boy had a soft spot for his mistress. I wondered if Piroska noticed the kind of glances he threw in
her direction. I couldn’t blame the teenager, as any human would stop to gaze at this wild beauty.
I wrapped my legs across Jiti’s body, turned off the light and dreamt about Piroska.
I dreamt my hands gently massaging her hands—my lips moving in her clean armpits. I could smell her in my dreams.
She had a softness unlike Jiti. She was shy and tender like the evening dusk.
Piroska had stayed awhile staring at the canvas. The longer she gazed at it the more she got instigated
to tear it apart. The rainbow of colours, which had inspired her to live, today repulsed her. Her hands wanted
to coil on the bottles of oil paints lying nearby and hurl it on the wretched face. She wanted to see every colour drain
out and dry.
She took a step back, thinking she could test her mind in a
better fashion, but it seemed to remain fixed. She went further back, nearly toppling over a light stool—the illuminated
Might had no effect on her. She backed an inch away from the wall, felt a sharp bang as she moved back once more.
The bump was like a reawakening of the soul. It seemed as though the confused mind that had been like an undone puzzle
fell in place. It was like a photographer who had got the right angle of an ugly face. What Piroska was thinking
all along was disastrous. Her mind had been like the devil’s workshop. It was like a potter who lumped his
clay back when the shape that he wanted did not get formulated.
she wanted what she painted? The misrepresented image of the canvas held glorious moments. Didn’t she sweat
and slog to capture the moods of the sun? Didn’t she want to create an unpardonable image? Piroska felt
confident that this canvas would be a hit in the art world. It seemed as though, at an angle, the Sun God had opened
his mouth, letting ferocious looking serpents to crawl all over the universe. The vigorous and potent sun had been given
a destructive touch to it. It had always been portrayed in an effective position by artists, novelists and poets.
It either awakened through bouncing white clouds or slept gracefully behind mountains and over seabeds.
What had Piroska done? She mixed the peace and power together and gave the “forceful” the look
of a fallen weed. It had the look of banished Satan from heaven—the fallen power of Samson when his hair had been
cut, the defeat of Adonis when the wild boar killed him, yet the canvas had a victorious look of Odysseus who passed the wailing
sirens. The whole canvas had a very creative effect, making Piroska’s depressed mood light. Bi came in to
check on his mistress, and he smiled to himself when he saw a luminous smile curling on his kissable missey’s lips.
Her eyes were glazed to the canvas—lost to a different world. He went out whistling a very romantic love song
that said how the lover wished he would be in the arms of the woman he loved. If his missey was happy, then so was he.
That evening Piroska spent her time spring cleaning. The entire den had been in
a mess for the last fifteen days. It looked all stormed with all her stuff lying around. She made it look presentable
for whom? She didn’t know. She asked herself if she was waiting for someone, as no one visited her den.
It was her private place and she rarely welcomed visitors. Yet she had an intuition that she would have a guest.
Her elated mood did not cave into a melancholy one when no one arrived at her doorstep.
She felt relaxed as she bit into a vegetable sandwich and read Mario Puzo’s “The Last Don”
late into the night. Bi packed off early, though he showed his reluctance of leaving her alone. Left to herself,
she felt at ease in this solitary place. Tomorrow she would be packing her canvas and sending it to Yash.
What would his reaction be—appreciation or distaste? If he acknowledged it,
he would not show it. He would, on the other hand, display displeasure on his gaunt face. She wished she could
see his visage when he opened the packing. He asked her to send it across and did not even mention to bring it over
personally. His opinion on her work did matter, as he had good connections. He was like a doctor who could diagnose
a case correctly without causing a blunder. He had the eye of an eagle that took no time to sight his prey from way
above everyone else. What he said had a value to it. It was because of his that she could sell most of her paintings
at a decent price. Yash did not even visit her again nor did he made an effort to contact her after she had rudely asked
her mother and him to leave the den.
Her mother gelled better with him.
For a fleeting second Piroska wondered if her mother had a soft corner for Yash. They looked smart together and vibed
well. Her ma must be definitely missing the presence of a man in her life. In spite of this thought, Piroska knew
the mind of her conventional mother. She might have helped Piroska to acquire a divorce, but when it came to herself,
she would just chicken out. Piroska could not yet understand why her mother still clung to her father. The man
gave her nothing, physical nor mental satisfaction, he gave her pain. His relationship with Sarah no longer remained
a hidden secret; both moved around freely like young lovers. Suresh Bhat did not bat an eyelid when she showed her affection
in public. In spite of all the tales carried to her mother by her friends, she pretended not to be bothered. But
deep inside, Piroska knew that her mother’s heart bled with sorrow.
father had not even sent her a note of congratulation on her successful exhibition. He seemed to be still embittered
about Ashara. Why he moaned still she didn’t know, as Suresh Bhat’s ties with Ashara’s business had
strengthened over the last six months. Piroska did not remember her father once at the den, he was touring abroad with
Sarah. She felt that all her childhood affection for him had come to a complete standstill. She found nothing
in her present life related to him. She was politely obliged to him because she had to live under his roof. He
did finance some of Piroska’s wants, and she felt that it was his duty, and she was going to make use of him.
Since she was only his daughter, he had a responsibility towards her, even though she was divorced. Piroska did not
demand any alimony from Ashok during the divorce. His signature on the divorce papers itself was a boon. It set
her free like the dove in Noah’s ark that did not return upon seeing greenery.
Her mind went to her friend in Sangeela. She never noticed the masculine side of her. It never struck
her that she was gay. Piroska never saw her in feminine clothes. The lady did not even make an attempt to make
a pass at Piroska. Though at times she had held her hand, and casually flung her arms around Piroska’s shoulders,
the attitude seemed informal. Piroska envied her friend for having a stable relationship, even if it was with a woman.
While she, on the other hand, had no one to romance with.
It was late midnight;
she did not seem to get any sleep. She thought a little extra reading would tire her out, but it did not. Piroska
thought of going for a walk in the eerie night, but refrained from the idea, as it was unsafe. She tried to focus her
attention on the ceiling, thinking of her next project. Tomorrow seemed empty for her. This canvas had exhausted
her thinking abilities.
Laying down, she started to remember the God that
she had forgotten over the years. She was not an atheist, but she had sidelined the creator with whose universe she
was in love with. The marble Ganapati that she had picked up at “Ganapatipule” took a back seat after her
divorce. She tucked the idol in her cupboard and regretted what she did. Maybe all the bad phases that she was
undergoing was due to the negligence of the deity. She was never fatalistic, as she was always afraid every minute in
her life. She felt like a shipwreck whose masts were yet to be sunk. Piroska felt guilty for her loss of faith
in God. Didn’t those few minutes of saying her prayers give her some mental satisfaction? Didn’t the
ringing of the temple bell make her transcend to a different world? With these thoughts, she walked to her cupboard
and searched for the deity. It laid uncared for with her used brushes and paints. How sad it looked.
She lifted it and placed it between her palms, it had collected dust and it saddened
to see her for its state. She bathed it in cold water; liking the new look, she placed it by her bedside lamp, which
created a halo around its head. Was this God angry with her for tucking him into her cupboard? Would he not care
for her any more? She stared at it, and then picking it up, laid it in the inside of her palms and went off to sleep.
She heard a whisper in her dreams, as someone was reciting a poem for her.
Why do you stare at
with those blank passive eyes?
I still do not understand you.
Is this the way life bids farewell?
Is this the way you greet lovelorn souls?
Is this how you will
Yash sat sprawled in his garden with a relaxed
face. The black clouds floating in his direction looked dangerous like a host of locusts coming to invade a ripe grain
field. Thor seemed to be at his peak, roaring across the sky as though in an angry mood.
The sea miles away suddenly darkened to a blackish-greenish smoke. Flocks of sea birds were hurrying back
to their nests as lighting swept across the dark skies. The savage scene would have definitely excited the paint brushes
of Piroska, as she had this sadistic attraction towards wrath. Yash knew that her entire past life had been one of turmoil
and hence she could relate to such moods of nature with ease.
He was overwhelmed
when her canvas for the exhibition arrived. He had not yet opened the packing to feast upon whatever she worked on.
It gave him great pleasure to promote her work—not because he liked her, but because the woman had great talent and
maturity when she perceived nature in all its forms. Being an art dealer, he looked at her painting with a creative
eye that had the ability to draw attention. Yash, therefore, wanted to see that her work got channelled in the right
direction. He wanted her to gain a permanent footing in the first few ranking of a good artist. Piroska’s
last exhibition at Lasa was given a good coverage and her work was much discussed in the art circle. The oncoming exhibition
cum sale had to fetch her a name and a good bargain. Yash wondered what the packed canvas held—the blasé sea or
the virginal earth.
The first big raindrop he felt trickling from the surface
of his hair to his scalp, and then it rolled down his back and settled in his bottom cleavage. More drops seemed to
invade his body, which eased out; he felt too lazy to move into the house. It was a long time since he got wet in the
rain. The force of the rain showered upon him, and Yash’s body felt as though the rain goddess didn’t feel
ashamed to nestle herself on his lips, armpits, the deep set navel and his strong loins. She gave him a thrill by drumming
on his hardened nipples. He felt tickled as drops rolled into his unshaven hairy armpits; he kept licking his hungry
lips as more sweet water clung on to them. “Gawd!” he groaned, if only Piroska had been with him—this
passion that he was oozing out with the rain goddess would have climaxed with her great body.
The rain pelted down harshly as its stinging nature felt as though it were angry at him for thinking about another
woman. Yash chuckled at the thought of the elements of nature being jealous of the mortal woman…whether on heaven
or on earth they were all the same. He walked into the house looking like a wet chicken, leaving puddles in the house.
Brug just turned his huge head away in disgust as he watched his master dripping every where. Yash slipped into his
tub of warm water, which chilled out his turned-on arousal. He smiled to himself, did Piroska ever have encounters with
the forces of nature where her body felt possessed and wet?
Drying out his
wet body, he made himself a cup of coffee. He felt comfortable walking around bare, he had Burg to make him feel shy
of his nudity. Sipping his strong café, he watched the rain slyly easing out. In another few minutes the rain
goddess would be exhausted with her play on mankind. Yash decided to open Piroska’s canvas, what the little Red
Riding Hood had in store for him he didn’t know. Brug sat at a distant, away from his knelt-down master; his drooped
ears twitched every time the scissors went clip clip into the outer package. Yash’s eyes popped out (like an over-roasted
popcorn) as the disfigured image of the Sun stood gaping at him.
Joe!”- he exclaimed to himself, “What have we here?,” this babe was going to cause some loud music among
the critics and art lovers. Hodur, the blind brother of the Sun God Balder, would have laughed at the canvas with mixed
feelings if he could see. Yash stared at the canvas with mixed feelings, whether to weep or to laugh—a female
Sun—that in its meekest element totally disfigured? He remembered the mythological story about “Balder the
Sun God,” who was looked upon by all creation as the supreme power—until he dreamt of the demons overpowering
the gods, and the bright face was overcome by a shadow of distress. Similarly the canvas in front of him portrayed pain,
anger, frustration, all painted in bold colours. The face of the Sun looked fiendish, ugly, dull and torn apart.
A Kunti would have never dreamt of having a Karna had she now set her eyes upon the Sun God. The Sun, which beheld the
symbol of cosmic awareness, was reduced to being unauthoritative. The energy to whom Rama was asked to pray, by Agastya
when he was disheartened, was playing a role of a submissive female on the canvas. The energy that got about life and
light was given a depressing figure. Piroska surely had lost her sanity of imagination.
Yash, stared in awe at the strength of the created image, whatever—it sure was different in all its sensibilities.
Even if she got ranked in the first three, he would be happy. Yash was more interested in her getting the name than
the money. Such kind of fame would make her more balanced and stable in mind. Had she done meditation, he wondered,
as that would do her a world of good.
Ashoka, that boy needed a shake for
rapurting a young woman’s future. He bought some expensive painting from Yash, but needed to get permission from
his mother to buy it. He was so hung up on his mother, and maybe this was what led to the final show-down in Piroska’s
Though Piroska refused Yash’s proposal in marriage, he wanted
to give another try. No doubt he had many women in his life, but she seemed to be really special. He knew to go
back on the topic meant trouble. If she refused the second time, then he had to forget her. A small drizzle remained
outside. Nature seemed to wash out the dirt and Burg curled up and went to sleep. Yash looked at the canvas.
Crazy woman—she crept into his mind and hopefully it was to stay.
If Piroska got into a state of depression, so did I for different reasons. If she pretended to be out of
that note with her painting (then she was sadly mistaken), so was I with my grey clay pots. We both still permanently
lived in a state of uneasiness, and what we held on to as happiness was a temporary phase. Many memories remained undestroyed
and many could never be deleted. I recalled my conversation with Piroska.
“You, seem to be coping with yourself after the divorce?”
“No, can you see those colours on the mountains,
in harmony with autumn, thats what my life is like. Splashes of green and an advanced state of deterioration.
I don’t think I will see happiness again; it seems far across the horizon.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Why?” she looked ahead and repeated. “Why?
What kind of a life should I lead? I have never given it a thought. Marriage, not again, children—I can't
even produce illegitimate ones. The one that I planned on got bumped off. Men are a bag of garbage. It’s
difficult to reconstruct life again.”
“Hasn’t your painting helped you to think positively?”
She stared into my eyes and laughed.
“It has saved one part of my life not the other.
I have always grown up with colours, but this colour does not add any bright hue to my difficult life. It is like the
mist that rises and exposes the weather and settles down again. I have tried so hard with my counsellor to regain my
confidence but something fails. It boosts my spirits and dampens it too. You will not understand the kind of brainwash
I went through. The episode with Ashok and the Madonna was tragic. My true love got so badly jilted that I have
no time to think of another.”
I felt as though she lied about that. I understood Piroska’s agony and knew what it was for the mind
to keep recycling itself, especially as nothing churned out came pure.
“Are you sure about the Madonna?”
“No, I keep thinking that it was a illusion. When I opened the door, I saw the
face of Ashok and Ashok.” She shook her head.”Can we make mistakes?” she asked me innocently.
I did not answer because I knew
the Madonna and the kind of fixation that Ashok had for her. I could not comfort Piroska with lies. To love again
could have been difficult, as I had someone for three hours, and that was it. I remembered the time when my holy father
wanted to sell me to Tanabai, and those sentences stank even till today when he told his friend, “Tanabai is quoting
a good price for her. She said, she’ll sell high being young.” I did not wait to hear anymore and
slipped out of the house, running blindly into the chilled night. Tears gushed out from my soft brown eyes as I sprinted
on the banks of the Cauvery. My soles bled with the sharp pebbles and shells cutting through my supple skin. I
ran wildly into the eternal darkness till I could not breathe anymore. I gasped for fresh air as I flung myself into
the wet mud, my tears got soaked in the damp soil, which smelled like fresh rain. I was given a choice either to be
sold or join the nunnery. I preferred the confinement rather than get sold like a slave.