Even though it is district headquarters, Mandya is not a big city like Mysore*. I had to spend four years there, to complete engineering degree. Four years… God! What all I had seen… from agitations of farmers caused by narrow minded politicians…. to bloodbaths by fanatics immediately after the demolition of Babri Mazjid… every form of human madness… I am destined to bear all those in my soul.
Our hostel was just a stone throw away from the heart of the city. Sharing of ‘Kauvery’ river water was a burning issue between two states, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. As a result, Mandya City was under curfew. Farmers of Mandya were not ready to give water for the agriculturists of Tamilnadu. Why future wars… water causes for bloodshed every day!
‘Why should a river flow through two states?’, a madcap started singing .
‘Just to make another river of blood!’, a blind companion also joined him with deep melancholy.
Agitating farmers were about to burn a petrol bunk, immediately opposite to our hostel, in the evening. Tear gas shells were fired and unfortunately they landed on our hostel ground! Students, already trapped in curfew, were trapped again inside the tear gas fumes and that time I was sleeping inside a new blanket. My classmate Vinod had a very tough time as his eyes started swelling. We used to call him ‘Bulb’ because of his ever-bulged eyes and that time it was exactly the same. Curfew was relaxed after two days and his father reached our hostel. He was a Bangalorean.
‘Premji, if I arrange a rented house outside, would you like to share that with Vinod? You know, he is a bit afraid of living alone’, he asked.
‘Sure Uncle’… Even, I too suffer from low blood caused by poor food supplied in the hostel’, I promised him since he was my best pal. ‘Snoopy will also join us’.
Jay uncle became very happy.
‘If you vacate the hostel, be ready to face the consequences. If you Dad comes to know about this… that’s all… there ends your engineering’, mother warned me when I rang up and told her the matter.
Who cares the threats of Moms! That too at the noon of your youth! Even I needed a change…It was a wonderful new house in the outskirts of the city and we were the first tenants. There was a huge ground behind our housing colony and children used to play Cricket there. Soon, Jayaram Reddy also joined us. I was forced to learn the alphabets of cooking from our cook Maheswari. Whenever there might be a festival or something, she would be missing! Days went by happily and freshers joined our college. The tough times of ragging started, but we used to do only friendly ragging! It was fun for them as well as for us!
Just opposite of our house, lived a bank employee and his family. His two small daughters were my best friends. Local boy Krishna used to help us bringing vegetables, grinding rice for breakfast and transferring silly gossips. Months passed… One day, I was busy watching Sudha, a wonderful girl of sixteen, riding slowly on her bicycle. She just smiled and sped away.
‘Premji Sir, there is no point in watching her…’, local boy Krishna said from behind.
‘When did you come?’, I was angry.
‘Why did you say so?’
‘She is dumb, Sir… ‘
‘She cannot talk… she can only hear’
‘So what? Thanks God!’, I said aloud
‘Thank God!’, poor Krishna was embarrassed…
Automobile Engineering was quite a dry branch and girls from other branches used to care only very handsome guys. I was an alien among them… with a French beard! (What could I do if my beard had been growing just like that and that time it was not all a part of fashion!).
Nobody had any interest on Sudha. The finest language ever in the history of mankind is silence and of course that is the language of love! And we were enjoying that silence. Sudha… O! The nectar of love! Semester vacations started. Sudha, where are you? In my dreams?
We all returned soon as semester breaks were so short and unfortunately I was the class topper! It was quite unexpected! Everyone started teasing me… topper…topper… Idiots, I was a lazy guy during the past three years and now you see my real potential, I thought… But, I had to suffer a lot for that! That’s another story.
‘Now, submit your synopsis for project work’, Mr.Naganna, our HOD, announced in the class room. He was a diehard ‘Stalinist’ professor! Shridhar and I… we both looked at each other…
‘Old man is going to fuck someone’s happiness!’, he told in a lower tone.
Discussions were going on everywhere to find out a new concept to convince the HOD. I was busy converting that as an opportunity to grab some more money from my Dad! Naturally discussions steamed up even in our rented house, till night. At around 10’O clock, our fiends left for hostel and I locked the front gate. Being a very cold night of February, everyone slept off early in the nearby houses… everyone finished eating dinner except me. When I was about to start eating, calling bell started ringing continuously.
‘We have taken over this house’, a six and half feet tall body builder answered. ‘Shut your arse and keep quiet tonight… otherwise’, he demonstrated the punch of a boxer.
I knew this guy, henchman of a local MLA (Member of legislative assembly). He grabbed the gate key and switched off all the lights. Suddenly a gang of four members moved into our house with some plastic bags. They all sat on the dining hall floor in semi-darkness. The Moon was rising up, quite late…
‘Hoy… Give some glasses and water…’, the muzzle man asked
They started boozing and we were standing in the front room. They could see us… Fear… nothing but fear, we were! We stood there as if observing silence.
‘Boss, did you have dinner?, one guy asked the nuzzle man. That was a familiar voice.
‘No… Mahesha…’, Boss replied. ‘I didn’t get time… You know… I was searching for a safe house where students live.’
‘Then, have it’. Mahesha handed over my plate of chapattis and curry.
Boss grabbed the plate and started eating like a hungry lion.
‘Bastard! Who will water the fire in my bellies?’, I thought in vein…
Suddenly a bike stopped just outside our house. A tall guy and someone in a huge jacket entered into our rented house.
‘God! She is a whore’, Snoopy said in a low voice, ‘that guy was our senior in college’
‘Welcome… Welcome… ‘Mysorina Malligai… (The Jasmine of Mysore)’, Boss welcomed her pleasantly.
‘O… I am flattered’, she replied in sexy voice.
I could feel the feeble smell of some Jasmines on her plaited hair. Suddenly the smell of drunken lust started mixing with that of Jasmine.
‘Boys, switch on the front room light and continue your studies’, Boss ordered. ‘And you guys, just keep quiet’, he ordered to his gang.
Again the cloud of fear started moving across our mind-skies.
‘Enjoy yourself Boss’, Mahesha said with happiness. Boss vanished with her and the cot made of some cheap wood started creaking.
‘Vinod, your bed is gone!’, I said. Poor guy couldn’t even smile.
Vinod, Snoopy and Jayaram were lying on a bed sheet spread on the floor and I was sitting on its corner. We didn’t talk even a single word. What an insult! But, to my surprise, they all slept off coolly as if nothing had happened! The bedroom door used to open and close, loads of lust were transferred. I heard her snoring in the middle! ‘Quenching of lust’, still continued! Then Mahesha came to my room in a jolly mood. He was working as a supplier in the Hostel.
‘Mahesha, what is this? How come you are with this gang?’
‘Boss called me… So I am here. Forget it all, Premji… now, go and enjoy her. This is the best chance to lose your virginity’, Mahesh teased me.
‘Fuck you. Now, leave me alone’. I couldn’t even think of surrendering my treasure to that bitch! I switched of the light and sat there like a metal statue. Police party might appear for night patrolling. The Moon was getting deep buried in darkness of clouds… and I … in deep insult…
‘Three times, in just three hours… Boss, you have great stamina’, another guy praised the Boss
They all slept off and time passed on snail pace. I had to wake them at 5’O clock in the morning. Better, they could have killed me! And at last the wall clock told me… ‘boy… it’s time to wake them up’. The Boss wanted to have it once again. But, his mates didn’t allow that. She was sleeping peacefully in the bed. Boss woke her up from deep slumber…. ‘Get up… bitch’
‘Come, let’s go now’
‘Yes, now’, the sound of Boss started rising. ‘Almost everyone knows us here’
‘Do you have a vehicle?’, she asked in a sleepy voice.
‘Mysorina Malligai…’ She was ready for another act in real life. My God! From where had she picked up those Jasmines? Some among the gang vanished in the dark and Mahesh rolled out the bike. Boss had a plan to leave her in the Bus stand. She moved out slowly and the Boss followed. My friends were snoring like old dogs in the other room. ‘House is burning and idiots are sleeping… bastards’ I too followed them, just to close the door.
‘Sorry Boss’, Boss told me… ‘Hotel rooms are not safe now-a-days. If you have any problem in Mandya, just tell to Mahesha. I will manage it’
What an offer from a gangster!
They crossed the gate and Boss closed it without any noise. Mahesha started the bike and he was in a hurry to transport her away.
‘I will not go by this bike’, she was reluctant to sit on it.
‘Don’t talk… just go by this bike’, Boss caught hold of her hair in anger.
Somehow, she managed to release her hair from his grab and ran towards the ground in darkness. Boss followed her and tried to pull her back to the bike… But, she started shouting bad words…. Might be out of fear… Boss gave her heavy punch on her lower abdomen, so merciless he was, that the entire housing colony woke up of her screams…
‘shit’, the Boss ran towards the bike and they vanished in the dark.
‘Bastards… Sons of bitches…’, she continued shouting while writhing in pain. My friends woke up.
‘What happened?’, Vinod asked.
‘Can’t you see?’, I was mad with anger and hunger. Bastards slept of very well and now asking: what happened! She kept on cursing and local people started gathering. They were looking us with contempt… God!
‘Sons of prostitutes… who drank my blood the whole night… how can he kick me? I asked for just one favour… It is not safe even for a prostitute to sit alone in that Bus stand. Bastards… Bastards…’, she kept on shouting in pain.
At last, it was 6’O clock in the morning and slanting rays of morning Sun fell on her face. She was around forty and her face was yellow in colour… Turmeric paste? Of course, she had to heal the scratches on her face… Her life was eaten away by Vultures!
Then our cook Maheswary appeared for making breakfast. Somehow, she came to know everything
‘These boys are innocent… You also know that… Now, leave this place… Those guys are gangsters… They used to do this in other houses too where students are staying alone… see, they may to kill you if you don’t leave’, Maheswary threatened her.
‘Let them kill me’, she sat on our door step.
The people gathered dissolved for their daily routine and Maheswary went to the kitchen. The other woman didn’t even move from the steps. She sat on the white tiles. Red Sari and white tiles… what a contrast!
We were not in a position to explain what happened. At last Vinod asked her to leave raising his voice. Snoopy and Reddy joined with him.
‘It’s not our fault’, they tried to explain.
‘It’s your fault only… then, why did you open the door? You are also a part of this game’, she shouted while pressing her abdomen. ‘If I tell the Police that you all had enjoyed me… then imagine what will happen’
Sudha stopped her bycycle in front of our house and our eyes met. I could see the clouds of contempt even on her face. She sped away in disgust. Malligai was watching that… Can she understand my plight?
‘God! I lost everything… food, sleep, honour and at last love! Sudha, please… please don’t misunderstand me’, unknown feeling were doing ‘thandava’ (cosmic dance) in my mind. My friends, everyone, failed to plead her. Sadness started flooding on their faces. They looked at my face… Were there a silent request? Premji, do something…
Her eyes resembled that of a stuffed animal.
‘Akkaa’ (elder sister), I started talking with her. She was shocked as if touched by a hot metal. ‘You know the truth… that we are innocent… last night, we were totally helpless… Akkaa, Vinod is a patient and that’s why we took this house for rent… Now, we have to leave this place also… I know… you can understand our plight…. Akkaa, Please leave… Please don’t put us in more perils’.
She looked at my face for some time, all the time her left hand pressing her lower abdomen.
‘Akkaa, do you want something to drink?’, I asked.
She nodded her head.
I handed over a cup of hot coffee to her and she drank peacefully. We were looking at her face. She avoided my friends purposely.
‘Thammaa, (younger brother)’, what is your name?’, she asked me.
‘Prem, Last night… I was listening to you, talking with Mahesha…’
‘But, you were sleeping…’
‘I haven’t slept for the past 17 years’. A drop of tear started rolling down through her cheek. ‘You had a free chance to have it with a woman… but, you denied it straight away. Why? Because, you respect women… If the man whom I loved… at least showed a bit of that… then I wouldn’t have been like this…’, she started crying and her tear drops fell on the floor which split into millions of tiny droplets… I felt, my mind crushed like minced meat… She handed over the empty glass to me.
‘Prem… nanna Thammaa… (My brother)…I am so sorry… don’t worry… I am leaving…’
‘Thanks Akkaa’, my friends thanked her immediately. Bloody opportunists!
She walked away slowly and my friends ran to kitchen…. to have their share of Coffee… At last, she vanished from my vision… I felt very thirsty as if I was trapped in a desert for days…When I was about to close the front door, I felt like, she was sitting there on the steps.
There was nothing…. except a pool of blood…
God! What should I call her?
*Mysore — The Garden City of India… (Karnataka state)