by Sreetanwi Chakraborty
One: Sunshine on the silk route
“It is quarter past nine, already, Nini. Pull up things fast.” Afroz stroke the last few strands of Nini’s hair from his face and started caressing her bare shoulders with his manicured fingers.
Nini was still in a dazed state; her curly locks again fell all over Afroz’s face, as she held him tight, nibbling and licking his lips like she did the stormy night before. Afroz’s stubbly face was tinged with a streak of vermillion dabbed on the side of the nose, the vermillion that was a burning sensation on the curious parting of Nini’s soft, silky, black hair. Nini loved his straight-edged, sharp, pointed nose that stood as a mark of confidence, the chiselled tip that could easily dig into the sliding, buttery crevice of Nini’s navel.
“Sona please, not now, we have nobody returning, no doodhwala, no maid, no in-laws…nobody…only you and me, all cloistered.” Nini’s bare bosom was now alluring Afroz again to that moment of ecstasy that they always share.
“Oho, cloistered, haan, nobody, then let me just worship my goddess Nini, let me just sit in that humble position at the goddess’ feet and caress her from the toe to the top.” Afroz wanted to resort to the love-game again, with Nini’s hands now clasping him tight over her taut, brown nipples.
“Aahh sona, sona, I don’t know what would have happened if you were not there in my life. I am…I am just mad about you, my Afroz, only mine…my Greek god, my baby…” and Nini kept on playing with his fingers as they forayed into the different undulated areas of her body, trying to explore some unmatched moments of love. Winter mornings in Kolkata never gave her such warmth before, neither the room heater in her North-Kolkata home nor the blanket that Sameer purchased last year from Manali. Winters in Kolkata smelt of hilly laliguras now, spread all over Afroz’s naked torso, tight shoulder and shapely buttocks that heaved in heavenly pleasure as he went on rowing his boat steadily.
“It is time to go, but I am not in a mood to leave my beautiful rhododendrons, my laliguras”, Afroz said in a slightly hissing tone, “I shall come back and start a fresh painting on the canvas, goddess Nandini. And this time I will make sure that my goddess is all decked up only in flowers. Only flowers. Nothing else.”
“Ahaa, what fantasies, chalo, go now. You have your art classes. The little children must be waiting.” Nini pulled up her panty fast, as Afroz still gave a lingering look at her, a look of admiration, and a look that made the whole of her body blush with a burst of melon-red grandeur. Afroz planted a long kiss on Nini, or Nandini’s lips, and said goodbye for the day.
“Can’t you just come to me forever? Can’t we just leave the city and settle somewhere else? Can’t we? I mean I do not have the burden of a child as of now, and I want to get out of this detestable marriage sona, I was just thinking…”
“Thinking? You have started to think also? Nandini, please. Don’t get those strings attached again. You know I am just a struggling painter from Bangladesh, with no proper shelter in Kolkata. If anybody gets to know about this relationship, then even the art school will kick me out.”
Nandini was wondering now, faltering at moments, from whom did she want commitment? Her husband Sameer was out of Kolkata for his pharmaceutical job, obviously with Stella, his secretary to comfort him in every possible way. Afroz was her next-door neighbour, and he too put a question mark on how she ‘ought’ not to think. Even her mother-in-law sometimes snapped at her, often yelled too, using her vocal chords she to make the household a better place to live in. Nandini bolted the main door and started thinking again. What if she could repeat her life with Afroz? What if she could just get out of this marriage? Bustling Kolkata was gearing up for another day-sprint, and it gave her a neglectful look as she entered the bathroom to wash away the last stains of Afroz’s lovemaking.
Two: Through the lens now, in the print
It was 1:30 p.m. Suman now felt like princess Xena as if she had the entire burden of the world upon her shoulders and the news agency needed her as a saviour. The final proof of today was yet to be seen, the latest news on murder, mystery and psychedelic Mumbai was overshadowed by some other news that needed extra footage: it was a column on some page 3 celebrity going to the Maldives with her ex-boyfriend, as the husband kept on rolling on the carpet in utter distress, as many media houses reported. Working as a journalist is the shittiest thing in the world, Suman felt adamant for a moment, with rubbish news getting piled up every moment. It is your editor’s choice, you are not supposed to think, as thinking women might be a threat to their idiotic balls. Suman was flabbergasted at her boss, Rayan, but she was not in a position to leave the job either. Mom was bedridden with Leukaemia and Suman needed brains to earn money.
“And how long is this going to last?” Afroz came out of the bathroom, threw the rusty-red towel on the sofa. He smelt of a wild country aftershave, Suman got distracted now and felt numb and high at the same time, as she looked at his bare, sculpted body. Few droplets of water still clung on to his compact lips. Was she dreaming, or was this god-gifted love of hers was really standing in front of her?
“I am feeling ummmm…” Afroz wanted to snuggle into her now, as he started to unleash the demon within him. Suman’s proofreading was now almost over, she gave a final look to the copy of the news to be printed, gently embraced Afroz, and switched off her laptop. The blue night lamp was almost dimmed to its bare minimum, as Afroz dragged her on to the Kashmiri floor carpet lying just beneath her bed. Suman could feel her bosom heaving with excitement now, as she wanted to forget the hectic schedule of the newspaper reporting. Afroz was impatient now, the cologne smelled more exquisite, as his bristly, unshaven face slithered down Suman’s pantyline, deeper, deeper again, navigating the finest unkempt trails that made Afroz mad with passion and speed.
“Ahh dear, slow down, please I beg, slower, yes, lighter…ummm…” Suman was now on the doors of the seventh heaven, reclining at the monk’s position while the beast was still upon her, bending and twisting his mast inside her to steer the dreamboat to its destination. Afroz was still unfathomable, the man from another space perhaps, the new chap in her office, who was 35, 6 years younger to her, and yet an uncannily attractive suave young man- Afroz, who could think out of the box, just like her, the man with a golden heart, and a reservoir of excess fiery energy. Suman felt relieved in his strong, muscular arms; yes, she did not even think of that ultra-Feminism and the pseudo-Feminist ventures when it was about giving herself beneath his entire weight. He was this high-dose of potency, an aphrodisiac that charged her senses and thoughts.
After three long series of war, now the warrior princess now felt exhausted. She needed sleep; she needed Afroz more than anything else in the world now. But just then, the lingering thought of starting the new news agency came up to her mind:
“Afroz, can we plan a new news agency now? We can have a set up in a rented office and arrange for some interns accordingly. How’s the idea?” Suman placed her chin on his bushy chest and waited for his approval.
“What is new in that? Plus where would you get the money? And I am not going to stay in Mumbai forever.” Afroz sounded a bit misty, his words fell with an acidic impulse on her and Suman felt tempted to draw him closer to make him understand.
“We can start from here. We can go on with this live-in series, but with a news agency, we shall have better economic stability. We will bring mom here, in our home. You, me and mom. Won’t our world look more beautiful then?” Suman dreamt.
“For a change, can you please stop thinking about such weird ventures? Tomorrow we both have an office duty, and let me hold you tight now, and sleep.” Afroz switched off the blue night lamp. The last vestige of the wild smell of the cologne now made the room stuffy; Suman closed her eyes-in helplessness.
Three: Class, lust, and lecture
It was the last lecture on Friday, and Alpana wanted to drive home fast. The dark cumulo-nimbus clouds threatened to break the monotony of the sky, and they ushered in a sense of impending torment in her. Although she taught in a city college in Lucknow, her parental home was in a distant, suburban area in Uttar Pradesh. Afroz might be waiting for her, Afroz, her M.A. final year student who also stayed in the same village. After Ashok’s death, it was no longer the student-teacher bonding anymore, as Afroz was just three years younger to her. It was an excruciating pain that she felt when Ashok was no longer there, but when a few years passed, it was just with a slice of loss that she lived. She needed someone to fill up the emptiness of her body, the pangs of bodily thirst that she could not endure for long. In almost no time, Afroz became her closest friend, confidant and perhaps, a supporting pillar also. Alpana drove home more desperately now. It was for one week that she had not seen Afroz.
“Have some food and then go to the village library,” Maa was still not aware of their intentions.
“Ok maa, I shall be back, quickly.” Alpana suddenly felt like a damsel in distress, waiting to be reunited with her long-cherished idea of true love, Afroz. They met after one whole week, and the wait was worth it. Afroz had grown more impatient for her, parched, to get united in body and mind. It was 15th June, and it rained terribly when they made love on the roof. They kissed frantically, smashed all age-old doctrines of mourning in widowhood, and got drenched in the lusty rain. As the June rains pattered more forcefully, Alpana’s pelvic movements became stronger, harder as she kept on biting Afroz’s lips, held him strong beneath her, never to let him go. The rain and lovemaking subsided, as Afroz showed her the approval of his scholarship; he was going to Boston the next day, for his Ph.D.
“Who had given them these high doses of tranquilizer?” the matron of the government mental hospital shouted at her juniors in a raging tone. Nandini, Suman, and Alpana all three had been suffering from visual, auditory and somatic hallucinations and they needed medicine doses as per their prescription. She looked at all three of them in the cabin that they jointly shared. While Alpana was busy scribbling something on the whitewashed walls, Nandini was playing with laliguras florets. Suman could be seen in a distance, muttering some incoherent words and using her fingers like snake, to show that she was busy on a laptop. The matron went slightly close to them, and she was stunned once more after they all were admitted in this hospital one year before:
Alpana’s scribbling read ‘Afroz’, Nandini’s flower design alphabetically read ‘Afroz’ and Suman kept on muttering ‘Afroz’. Afroz still existed for all the three women, like a balcony to their claustrophobic homes, because they wanted to think, to make the world a better place to survive.
About the Author:
Sreetanwi Chakraborty is an Assistant Professor in Amity Institute of English Studies and Research, Amity University Kolkata. Her debut book The Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up: A Feminist Interpretation of Fairy Tales was published in 2019, and it received the Rising Star Award for non-fiction category at New Town Book Fair, Kolkata. She is the editor of a bilingual biannual journal Litinfinite, with more than 13 indexing of international repute. Her poems,stories and literary articles have been published in notable English journals and magazines, including Setumag, The Darjeeling Chronicle, Darjeeling Times, The Daily Bhorer Alo (Bangladesh), Muse India, Kochi Post, Abhiyatri (Bangladesh), Somodhara (Bangladesh), Sambad Samayiki (Bangladesh), Aswamegh, the Bombay Literary Review, Langlit, Asian Cha and many more.