|When I stepped from the main road into the narrow bylane, I had little idea that my life would be irrevocably transformed. The unbearable stench of sweat and human waste should have made me turn back.
“Don’t show me your face if you score less than first class!” My father’s harangue of that morning still rang fresh in my ears.
“Should I show you fresh stock?” A swarthy man accosted me.
Embarrassed, I went around him, and walked on. Fresh Stock! As if he referred to meat or vegetables.
“Darun magi ache amar kache!” Another man in a white shirt stepped out of a side street, almost scaring me. His words gave me a sudden high. 'I have good whores' is what he meant in Bengali.
Rahul Sen: Third Division The result against my name on the college notice board that morning floated before my eyes. My old man wanted a First Division. I let out a hollow laugh.
The pimp’s words meant I was now deep inside Sonagachi, Calcutta’s infamous red light area, where within an area of a square kilometer were housed more than ten thousand prostitutes in some of the world’s most abysmal and unhygienic conditions.
Ignoring the pimp I planned to explore the place on my own. An amazing sight greeted me, something that I had never visualized. The street had houses on both sides, and outside every house stood women of all ages and appearance, in various stages of undress. Their faces painted with heavy makeup, their lips coated with dark lipstick, eyes thick with mascara, some of them thrust their heavy breasts before me while others lifted the hem of their saris to show me their thighs. I should have run away from that hell.
Weirdo, Mad, Impotent. I groaned when I remembered my classmates’ taunts. Painful memories have the habit of cropping up at the most unexpected places. I had almost retraced my steps when those remarks surfaced with a vengeance. I changed my mind and walked on.
For the first time in my life I received so much attention and I basked in that glory. Behind my modest and shy exterior, lay a mind that had always been unparalleled in debauchery and depravity. I was always scared of talking to girls. They all thought I was weird or impotent. They could never even have imagined what my mind did to them in the nights.
It was for men like me that God created Sonagachi. Finally, I had a goal in my life; to bed as many of them as possible. But today I had to be choosy because the woman I would mate with would receive the not so unsubstantial gift of my virginity.
My manhood had turned into a steel rod, and I had to adjust the front of my trousers several times, inviting peals of laughter from the girls who vied for my attention. Their sweet sounds drew forth a sudden burst of testosterone in my loins making me feel manly and important. And then I spotted her.
I approached her, her painted face and red lips driving my libido crazy. Her fair skin, high cheekbones and narrow eyes marked her Nepali ethnicity. I knew that girls from Nepali were popular in Sonagachi.
“How much?” I asked, looking straight into her eyes and shocking myself with my own brazenness. I felt like a stranger.
“Hundred rupees,” she said with a smile, showing perfect pearly teeth. I was taken aback by the melody of her voice. She was sweet and pretty and that smile bloomed a million roses in my heart. I cast furtive looks upon her skimpy blouse and short skirt, devouring with my eyes her deep cleavage and milky thighs. My heart overwhelmed with tenderness because she looked so young and vulnerable.
“The other girls said fifty.” I didn’t want to haggle, but actually had only as much in my pocket save for the bus fare back home.
“They are black Indian girls. White Nepalis will cost you hundred.” The bright smile vanished. Suddenly, she appeared tired, harsh and old.
Crestfallen, I turned away, when I felt her hand on my shoulders. She pulled me inside her house and locked the door.
“What happened?” I asked with wonder, worried that I was going to be robbed, not that she would find anything of worth.
“Okay, give me fifty.”
“I took out my wallet and counted five notes of ten rupees each and handed it to her.
She accepted the money, took out a key from the pocket of her skirt, opened a wooden cupboard and placed the money inside. She locked it again and without a word removed her skirt and lay down upon the bed.
“Come,” she invited.
My legs shaking, I approached the bed and stood silently watching her.
“What are you waiting for? I don’t have time to waste. You paid me only fifty.” She snapped.
“I…I…” My voice failed me.
“You have to show me. It is my first time.” My voice was an almost inaudible whisper.
To my sheer relief, her face softened and I could see the contempt giving way to sympathy.
“Student?” She asked, looking at my knapsack.
“Presidency.” Did she really look impressed?
“Leave your bag over there and remove your clothes.” It was an order, but her kind voice boosted my confidence.
I stripped naked before her. But now I could no longer look her in the eyes. My engorged cock proclaimed my arousal.
She touched my hand and said, “Come on the bed.”
I lay down next to her, smelling her cheap perfume.
“Do you want to use a condom?”
“I don’t know.”
“It is compulsory for every customer of mine to use a condom.” Why did I feel revulsion at the mention of the word “customer?” Even I was one.
“Then why are you asking?”
“Never mind…come on top of me.”
I got on top of her. Unable to resist the sight of those juicy, red lips, I lowered my mouth.
“No kiss.” She moved her face away.
“We are not lovers. You are only my customer.”
Perhaps, she saw the hurt in my eyes.
“It takes a long time for me to put this makeup. It will get spoiled,” she said, hoping to comfort me. She did. I looked deep into her eyes, enchanted by her beauty.
My manhood begged for release and involuntarily I rubbed it against her smooth thighs.
I felt her fingers wrap around it. The touch felt like silk and it almost drove me over the edge. I could sense its head wedge inside something soft and wet. It felt delicious and with a primordial urge I thrust forward, penetrating her depths. The wet flesh of her folds collapsed around my tensed muscle, clamping it like a vise. I knew I had reached paradise.
I had never experienced anything like it before. It was an experience far superior to any hand job I had provided myself. She clasped her hands around my head and pulled me lower, offering me her lips. Our mouths locked and tongues entangled. I savored the sweet taste of her mouth, while her heavily lubed womanhood massaged my hard shaft. She locked her legs around my hips and moaned. I could smell a musky odor in the room and even with my relative inexperience I knew it was the heavenly fragrance of her sex.
Her lovely face, her lustful moans, her sweet smell was too much for me to bear any longer. Grunting like some wounded animal, I spurted deep inside her womb. At the same time she also clenched her teeth and closed her eyes. Her unyielding softness vibrated spasmodically around my hardness several times, squeezing out every single drop of my milk.
Ecstatic waves of pleasure drowned me in their wake. I felt happy, content, confident, fearless and most of all, liberated. Her femininity had sucked out from my masculinity all my fears, apprehensions and meekness.
We lay like that for a long time. I kept gazing at her face and ran my fingers through her hair. She made no attempt to push me away. When I planted kisses on her eyes and neck she did not protest. Time came to a standstill.
“Why did you allow me to do it without a condom?” I had dressed and was ready to leave.
She remained silent.
“Why did you kiss me?” Again, she said nothing. For the first time after entering I looked around the room. My heart sank at the squalor and poverty of her surroundings.
“What is your name?”
“Dolly,” she replied.
“Will you come again?” Her voice was tinged with expectations.
“Yes, Dolly.” I said vehemently, kissing her on the forehead.
When I finally emerged from that dinghy room with my knapsack upon my shoulder there was a spring in my step and laughter in my heart. I walked out of Sonagachi, not once looking at those painted faces and colored lips. Only hours ago I had made it my lifelong ambition to bed them all. How frivolous that sounded now against the levity I experienced in my heart? It had taken a young prostitute from Nepal to show me life’s true worth and feel the power of love.
I faced my father like a true man for the first time that day. My university results had been declared. I was a first year student of Science and I had barely managed to make grade.
“Baba, I am sorry I let you down. It is my fault.”
My father was peering at my report card from the top of his half-moon glasses. He gave me a quizzical look.
“I didn’t try hard enough.” What I didn’t tell was that I was always dreaming about women and sex when I should have been studying.
“So what will you do now?” His voice lacked the acerbity with which he always spoke with me. Perhaps my body language demonstrated the sincerity of my intentions.
“Work harder than ever before. Study, study and study. I will turn around my life Baba. Give me one more chance.”
“May God bless you.”
When I studied that evening, my mind was surprisingly calm and clear. Concepts which had appeared esoteric when the professor had taught them at the class appeared lucid and easy.
“Who will explain the motive of John Maynard Keynes?” asked Shambhu Ghosh, Head of the Department of Economics.
When my hand shot up, everybody suppressed a giggle. Shambhu’s face had the look of complete incredulity. He hesitated before taking my name.
With trembling legs, I rose to my feet. Thankfully, I had rehearsed that chapter the previous evening. Dolly’s sweet features came to my mind. I started.
“Keynes believed in the alleviation of human suffering. He was against free market economies because an economy is an inanimate, insensitive creature…” It took me ten minutes to bring out the import of Keynes and what he meant to Classical Economics. The concept was embedded in my mind as clear as glass.
“That is one of the finest explanations I have ever heard Rahul. My congratulations.” The professor’s encouraging words would stay with me for a long time.
After college ended, I found myself outside Dolly’s room. The door was locked.
“Come to me sweetheart. She is busy with another customer,” enticed the girl next to her house.
“No.” I said firmly.
For an hour I waited patiently, under the blazing Calcutta sun, waiting for Dolly to finish. I felt jealous and angry, but I knew it was not her fault. When the door opened, an old, grey-haired, potbellied man walked out, with a happy expression on his face.
“It’s you.” Dolly said when she saw me.
“How are you?” She asked when I entered her dinghy house.
“I bought you some sweets.” I took a box from my satchel and handed it to her.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
She came and sat down next to me.
“Are you angry?” she asked.
“You shouldn’t be.”
“I can’t bear to have another man sleep with you.”
“I am a whore.”
Those words brought out the animal in me. I swatted her smooth cheek with my heavy hand.
She burst out crying.
‘Please don’t cry, Dolly.” I put my arms around her and started sobbing on her shoulders.
We held each other for a long time.
“You should go now.” She said.
“I will come back tomorrow.”
I took out my wallet.
“There is no need,” she said.
“You didn’t sleep with me.”
I couldn't conceal my displeasure at those words. She read me well.
“Okay. You may give what you want from your own wish.”
I handed her double of what I had given the previous day. She curled her delicate fingers around the money, and looked into my eyes.
“Study hard. You’re a good man.”
When I left her that day, I felt a part of mine had stayed behind. I no longer felt the animal longing for her as I had experienced the first day. But I knew that she meant a lot to me.
The next day when I returned she was waiting for me. Her face lighted up when she saw me. When she closed the door of her room, I took her in my arms and kissed her. She melted in my embrace. I didn’t release her from my arms even for a single minute. She didn’t seem to mind.
“Dolly, can I study here?”
She nodded her head.
“Let me cook something for you.”
“Don’t worry. I'll buy something from outside.”
“No. You’ll sit here and study as I watch you. Don't waste money on outside food.”
Her words acted like a balm on my scorched heart.
“You know what?”
I raised my eyes from my books.
“I don’t even know your name,” she said laughing.
“Sorry. I’m Rahul.”
Before leaving, I opened my wallet. She looked hurt.
“Dolly, we’re not children. You need money. I keep you away from your work.” I hated the sound of the word “work.”
She looked sad. I took her in my arms, “Dolly, I love you. I cannot live without you. You have changed my life.”
I started returning home even later every night.
“I study in the library,” I told my parents. They didn’t seem to mind, because my performance in academics showed a remarkable turnaround. My mother also didn’t seem to mind the extra amount of pocket money which I kept asking. That was the benefit of being born to wealthy parents. I put the money to good use, protecting Dolly from her former infamous profession. I also used it to buy favors from the local mafia which ensured that nobody would ever force her to return to her previous life. It was a small price to pay for the safety of the woman I loved.
“Dolly,” she looked up from her cooking. Outside college I spent every moment with her. I couldn’t bear the thought of being without her even for a moment.
“Will you marry me? ”
“I am already married to you. You’re my husband.”Her face beamed.
“I know Dolly. And you’re my wife. But I want to take you away from here, to my home. To my parents.”
“Will they accept me?”
“They’ll have to.”
“When are you taking me to meet them?”
“What if they refuse?. And if they do, they’ll not be wrong.”
“I’ll leave their house, my father’s business. We’ll go away to another city where I’ll find a job.”
She came and stood next to me. I noticed for the first time that she was no longer dressed like the way when I first met her. Instead, she was dressed like a conservative Hindu houswife; my wife. Only then I realized that she had been behaving like my bride for a long time. Her pretty face stoked my desires. I led her to our bed; claimed her. That night, I no longer returned home. I couldn’t bear to leave her.
“You should go home now. Your parents will be worried,” she said, waking me up in the morning.
“I will return in an hour. Get ready. You’re going with me today.”
She nodded her head. When I left her, little did I know that that was the last I would ever see of her.
When I returned later, I only found a letter, written in her unsteady hand. She was illiterate when I had first met her, but I had started to teach her to read and write.
I have loved you like no woman has ever loved a man before. And I know that you love me and that is my greatest treasure. Love is different from marriage. I cannot marry you and destroy your life. I cannot separate you from your parents, drive you to a life of poverty. I cannot make you leave all the comforts you are used to you. Forget me. Find a good girl and marry her. I will always love you.
I have preserved that letter till this day. It is the only memory of the only girl whom I ever loved. The girl who taught me how to live. I still seek her; desperately.
Where are you, my darling? Did you not have belief in the strength of our love?
Word Count: 2878