Thursday, December 13, 2007

Behind the curtains of lust....

She sat in the corner of her room. Oblivious of the breathing behind her. Unmindful of the memories that haunt her, silence sobbed in another quieter spot of the heart. She had been enslaved in the prison of her own. The painted whitewash stood peeled off like her of her imaginations. The dampness stayed an uninvited guest. Her enquiries stood nude and shameless bathed in callous ignorance or intentional forgetfulness!!! She never cared. And he never tried to cloth it.
Curtains windowed the darker shades. She didn’t want the light of the day to disturb. Still a faint glow seeped though and spread like the whiskers of the mouse probing the smell of an indoor. Moans of someone’s sensuous pleasure trespassed the hazy boundaries of cloth. She wished to lose all her encumbrances. To feel lighter minus the mammary. Her gaze searched for the already lost heart. A gamble of zero hope. The last trigger. Nothing changed except the loss. Even the tone had a hiccup. The mutants of respects invalid for the present.
He loved her body; her color, her smile and everything in her except her. And what more could she expect as a prostitute?
Clients… Customers…Blurred images of men who came and went swathed her memory. Several visitors and a few guests. She serviced them without guilt, without passion to an ultimate impasse.
Kamathipura had been her ancestral home from time immemorial. Her world. Her mom wished her fate to break the shackles of these dusky rooms. She treasured and hid Tanima from those ugly clutches of lust. The penetrating eyes often tried to get it through, but those defeated efforts made the gaze thirsty for more. Brothels were her home and pimps her playmates. Untimely is destiny so unlucky. Her mom died a lonely death leaving the mantle for a young her. She wasn’t sold or maybe sold by the big madams. It was always a one-day play for the breed of her like and a one sided show. The actors playing their part to perfection. The selfishness for the three letter word caressed the body till the hunger died. Sometimes violent, at times lovely, sometimes lively, and mostly lifeless. It’s business. The most thriving from the ancient for the uncaring male dominion to ease off a frustration or two. Innumerable lives shattered, infinite souls sold. The muffled cries insulated in the muddle of sleaze.
Then there came the HIM. Out of a distraught home. Caring and quiet. Handsome and gloomy. His eyes spoke the undeclared story of disgust. The first man to enquire her affairs, the first man to caress her tress, the first man who cuddled her and shared his stories. The man who always returned for her. The man who kissed her forehead before making love. She fell in love so undisclosed. Her eyes awaited his arrival every anxious moment. Then his footsteps came more as expected, with the love and hope an extra baggage so unexpected. He had a family. A broken one though, her desires always defeated her morals in his presence. The cracked mirror reflected her circumstance in transition. The tiny drops of love showered from the crevices of her splintered soul into him. Was she going insane, she herself wondered once? But that is the magic of love, where the wits masquerade every wrong as right.
Months passed and she eased. The wrinkles from his tensed hood stretched clear. He brought the small chocolates she always yearned to savor as a kid. He got the teddies she saw on the windows while street walking. He brought the tiny packets of surprises every other day. He decided her birthday as the first night he relished her in delight. He softened her bed with the cards she never ever expected. And she began to dream. The castle grew in stature and so did her desire to live. She expected him to hug and make merry on the day she present him the biggest surprise.
The dark dim light streetlights expected his arrival. She stood with bated breath to break the news. Her gaze wandered wildly till where the lights could no longer transport. His gait slow, He arrived late. The regular chocolates missing from his fusty pockets. He smiled wry. And laughed at himself in a dry guffaw. Cynically the wagging tongue dragged itself and declared, drunk and inebriated – “My kid is back and so is his mom”. The elbows rubbed his eyes. The index finger cleared the flowing phlegm down his nose. His hands danced a different pose to the resonance in her ears. She felt a thud in her heart. The wind blew the castle down and all the dreams came tumbling down. She smiled amongst the angst and tears. There was no better joy than to see him happy. The news choked in the saliva that reluctantly settled below her tongue dragging down the throat. She coughed, but didn’t drop her crystal of joy. He kissed her once for long and she knew it her last. A fate so sandwiched like her mom’s. The hug caught her like a cadaver. Still his sweat smelt sweet a pheromone.
He left her a final gift of which he himself was caught unawares. The smiling chubby cheeked carved so identical. Her ray of hope. Her bundle of joy. Her son. The feeling of abandonment abandoned her in his presence. His future as the last glimmer of hope, she flicked the wrinkled past with a careless rebellion. The soiled pages to be cleansed and dried of the dirt. She will live for him. Tears of subconscious joy rolled her cheeks more than the lustful delights in her the next customer. She had evolved.
The hands pressed and the bodies’ embraced in a sensual nearness. He hugged her. And she melted into a stage of another tireless drama. A saga of transitory excitement, where flakes of lust flew like dust with every breath. A ritual done. The money paid. He left. She sat in the corner of her room. Oblivious of the breathing behind her.........

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Yesterday…. On the 28th November 2007, HAZIRA, Surat, Gujarat.... time and tide stood a true testimony to the proverb dedicated to salute their reputation…They didn’t wait for anyone…a delayed late evening ship survey. Reason - resource crunch tailed to the slackness of the personnel. Reserves intended for the MERMAID anchored at deep sea was loaded on the trawler. More time at sea. Venturing into the sea in a boat at half past six .The worst call ever taken by me. But adventure at mid sea that too at night is not an always-open option. It needs luck and availability, a little courage to take risk, the willingness to work at night, the adventure at heart and empathy towards the owner for the early release of his vessel for trade. My decisions agreed for the go. High risk - Worst among the practical impediments. The boat accommodated 10 humans, packaged in various shapes and sizes…lean, fat tummies, dwarfed, tall and so on…Nine of them with a wife waiting at home and one free me.
The ride as I believed was a 15-minute close to the shore entertainment trip, no traffic snarls, no humps, no ditches, no horns & no racing…. cool and calm amidst the breeze from the natural air conditioner. Ultimately my watch stood frozen, reaching the deep seas after an hour, although cruising at a commendable 5 knots. Aft to forward, a distance of 10 meters…the fishing boat lay complete.
Mermaid was nowhere in sight. No going further – The adamant crew reasoned for the route was perilous and not actually intended. The boat slowed down though not to a halt. Pitch darkness ruled the roost. The night skies were vacant except for one lone constellation and some scattered silver dots. The tide was high. Winter air was colder than the sea below.
Nine silk flags stamped the unique design for our small boat. I memorized the colours of those silk flutters. Yellow, blue, green, pink on one side & rose, orange, violet, red on the opposite symmetrically placed. A certain charm supplemented to the boat in motion. The lone bright ‘Maroon red’ waved the air in greeting, high at the helm. That was the ninth. Neither the crew nor I knew the real meaning behind these shades, may be a part of the aesthetics.Coaxing them with some sweet nothings, we reached the ship by 19 45 hours. “Welcome abroad vessel Mermaid” – Capt. spoke in a deep-throated command. The work finished at a speedy succession, taking cue from the fast life surrounding us. In an hour we planned the return. Hungry though… No time for dinner on the ship.
On the boat again. The Aluminium tumblers were wiped clean of the last morsels. I sat hungry at the boat crew’s callousness. The wooden structure started the return voyage at 21:30, unheeding to an own warning of the imminent low tide by 22 hours. An old Mr. Khan advised the crew to keep moving in the channel distinctly marked with a red light. The water split apart and the boat gained speed. The froth and bubbles tried to follow our trail, but of no avail. The wintry windy cold enveloped my shadowy skins. The silken curls danced daintily to the music of the howling snores of an orphaned wind. The small lonely cute bulb acted as a guiding radiance. I looked back for a view of the mermaid. Is she still beautiful? The ship seemed far but graceful in attire where the jewels gleamed. Only three triangular lights distinguished it from the horizon devoid of a margin. Disappearing from the eye view, she was inviting her male guests for a longer stay. Reflections carried to a larger expanse, but no shadows were cast for no glow had the nerve to cast a shadow between the oceans fury. Every silhouette merged in the darker picture.
Something I noticed in between. Water drawn in a plastic can from the sea. Another skilled artisan at work. Unlike the tumbler that goes dancing into a well and coming back gasping and spitting, taming the ocean and its salinity makes a tough competition. The 10-liter kerosene can was thrown into the sea along the direction of the boat’s motion. Coir held tight in hand, lest the ocean consume it. The behavior of the oarsman was equally rough like the mighty sea. He pulled it, dipped it again, pulled it, dipped it and repeated the same five times before one final drag and the haul was a can stomach full of brine water. We went on merry, laughing and chatting about life and the moments each sailor enjoyed at deep sea.Barely half an hour and lo!!! it happened. The red light neared and the boat rocked. It had hit the sand dunes in the sea. The tide had gone down. There is no way we can tell a tide to wait and time too had slipped off. No escape. The moon accompanied our sojourn. And with all its grace lent us the most needed light. Charm it exuded more from the moonlight reflecting its vanity on the oceanic carpet. Water glistened maybe shy to have a lady near. The seas seemed to lose its violent character. The presence of a female tamed him yet again. The expanses ahead showed a wall like structure. Receding water made visible the sand underneath. A blockade. We went round and round the red light with a vain hope of directing ahead a new route. The engine spluttered, screamed, roared and cried hoarse till it died, but the boat bottom stood obstinate in the sand kissed cuddle.
Stranded!!! Yes we were. Midnight in the middle of the vast expanse of an unending ocean. The little boat didn’t have a distress call equipment; neither did it have a lifebuoy. The boat was listing unevenly with every wave. Silence prevailed from the regular chirps. Only the distant industries lend some light to mark the shore. Dotted bulbs lined like a semi circular assembly. Our neighbour. A cutter-suction dredger at a far locale. Exactly 26 bright lights adorned the craft. The mobile signals were caught and left by the mobiles themselves. Mr. Captain requested the boatwallas to steer it back to the mermaid. They were unrelenting citing the inadequate supply of diesel to return on high tide. Anxious calls and hysterical responses. Deliberations continued. The human behavior became evident. Ball rolled to the other’s court. The blame game started. All the mistakes from the beginning, which weren’t mistakes till now, cropped up. Some fumed. Close friends turned to foes in a moment’s interaction. Tempers soared, anchors released. We requested the inmates of the boat to prepare food with the available resources. Rice and Dal stood mute at the empty kerosene tin. Both sat raw in the aluminum tumbler. So we are going hungry throughout the night.
“The first time in 25 years of sailing experience, am getting marooned.” - someone responded with the complaining intonation. I sat cool and quipped - “In that case I got the lifetime experience with just over two years into my career!!!” I beamed. I joked. The tense air borrowed an honorable humor. People learnt to smile ‘cheese’. The only question poking me was on how to click some memorable pictures. The Nikon surfaced from the captain’s pocket. 5-mega pixels. The battery was low, but the scope too was minimal. The surrounding didn’t expose much. The moonlight was my favorite. Flash off. Riding on an intense passion I captured the moon and its light as a couple shy among the misty clouds and like the divorced standing bold among the wavy sea.The small conversation with the boat crew ensued where he was more interested in the laptop I was checking mails on. The uses, where can it be procured, the cost factor so on and so forth. R-world had an excellent coverage till the battery let me down. The next tide is at 3 am. Let my tardiness sleep for 3 hours. I too decided and looked around the deck for a space. The temporary denizens occupied every available inch, but I got a corner to put my feet up. Sunil’s bag as my pillow, sleep almost carried me when an ‘Ankhom mein teri…’ hummed from the Mumbai mobile.
“ We agree to give the boat 30 liters of diesel. You can go on board.” – it declared. Somehow the boat moved freeing itself from the embrace. I was hungry, thirsty, cold and sleepy. There was no more “welcome abroad”!!! The cook was woken up and we got ORDER FRESH bread and AMUL butter plus mixed fruit jam. AMUL milk came later. One loaf and from that some toasted too. The instant egg fried rice and HEINZ tomato ketchup added zing with the KWALITY green chilly sauce. Thanks Shekhar, for the tasty food. It wasn’t hunger that made me say so.
I went to sleep in the bridge. Another catnap. The smooth rolling of the ship made my swing and the open air sung my lullaby. The boat was ready to leave by 2 am. Tide started to rise.
Somehow I was transported back to sleep. A sudden jolt and I found myself rolling off the upper deck. Perched precariously at the railing, only rising water approached my sights. A frail heart leapt to my mouth. There was a sudden cry of alarm from the co-passengers who hadn’t slept. They were tensed, red and wide-awake. A rodent came up the deck, enquired the air with its whiskers, and went down a hole. I continued my nap. The boat was rocking. A second jerk and I sat on my knees. A cold fright for the first time caught me unawares. Five more degree of list and the boat would turn turtle. Even water felt quite quiet. It was like death approaching, very near the shore. Seconds pricked like minutes that pain. The tide was rising furiously. Sickening sight of the whirlpools ready to consume us. The moment one falls off the vessel, death would clutch him with the unkindest & sharpest of its tentacles. A silvery grave of water? I couldn’t agree to. Swimming was futile. The cold froze me to back off into a shell. Hushed silence prevailed. Only the creaking sound of the wooden planks entertained the fright. The coxswain’s instincts and our lifeline bound together. The tiller was steered with adept hands. 30 minutes of nightmare. 4 am. We arrived a safe ashore. Moon alone followed us like a faithful disciple.
‘Relief’…said one…’Thank God’ ...said another… ‘Not again’…said my boss…’once in a lifetime experience’…murmured my cold whispers. Roads seemed safer and better, though with the infinite potholes. Rekindled with the value of life on earth, smiles came back and so did the humor.
On the road, into the waiting MH-03 Chevrolet. Fasten the seat belts, said the driver and we drove the deserted roads, each one thanking their respective God’s. Somewhere far the dear ones waited, to be hugged and pampered with life’s little surprises…another of those memorable nights from the annals of a small journey christened life…