About two years ago, a short story of mine got published for the first time. At Out of Print, no less. And this came about after 32 rejects. Started off a beautiful journey.
Here is the link to the story. And below is the story.
The Other Transgression
You’d want Puru on your side in any battle, in any bar-room brawl. He’s the captain of our college rugby team, my best buddy. I’d go to war with him.
It’s ‘Icebreaker’ today, the college frat night. Have some banter, take one of those first-year girls for a dance, get sloshed, get into a fight, get back to the dorm, drink some more. Standard stuff, really. Have been doing this for three years now.
Anyway, so we are all here. Puru’s a little uneasy getting Vaidehi here with him. He’s the only one in our gang who has a steady. You know, steady girlfriend and all.
I am not into all this girlfriend shit, man.
Just have fun. Hang loose. Chill. Women come and women go.
I’m happy with my beer and my rugby and my motorbike.
Vaidehi’s pretty and all. Not my type though. Paavam-type. You know, what the North Indians say, gharelu. I want someone more, you know, interesting.
Anyway, she’s Puru’s. So she is bhaavi and all.
“What this stupid rock-shock shit these IndCulSoc guys play, man,” Harjeet says.
“Yeah man! At least play some, like, you know, dance stuff,” I agree.
“Yeah, right said, bro.”
I am in the mood for a panga. “Let’s create some galaata, dude.”
Puru waves us away. “Na na, no galaata. Fuck, man. I have Vaidehi with me today. Wait, I’ll go tell them to change the music.”
Puru’s gone all soft. See what a woman does to a man! See, that’s why I say, no girlfriend business for me.
Puru returns. “Black Eyed Peas next. Happy?”
I’m not happy. But I shrug.
Puru’s my bro, man. He’s dude. He’s okay.
Raghav and his gang of rock guys and hot babes walk in.
“Asshole’s in town!” Venky whispers to me.
“Yeah. Bloody prick.”
Raghav is the rocker. Guitarist with some rock band. Topper also. Todu student. Bigtime bastard. On to this woman and that woman. Loose guy, man. Cheap fellow.
But woo hoo! What’s that with him?
“Who’s that babe, man?” I ask Venky.
“Whoa! She’s hot, dude! No clue, man.”
Harjeet says now, “Go find out, no. See if you can get a lay. It might be your lucky day.”
“Fuckin’ stop making fun of my name, dog,” I snarl.
Ah, no. Fat chance. These are the sophisticated kinds. Snooty as hell. They don’t have time for the Lucky Gowdas of the world.
But you don’t know, do you? So damn pretty! Poochne mey kya jaata hai? I’m not asking her to sleep with me or something. One dance only, no? Max-max, she will say no.
I wriggle my way up to Krish. He’s with IndCulSoc and all. Okay guy, boxer, plays good rugby. He’s like us only. God knows why he hangs out with these pansies.
“Lucky, wassup? Having fun?”
“Yo bro. Good shit you got here.”
“Yeah, thanks man. Had something to drink?”
“Yeah, little bit.”
“What the fuck. This is our party, man! You need to get sloshed. Wait, I’ll get you a beer.”
“Wait wait. You know who’s that babe over there? The one with Asshole? Never seen her earlier.” I point her out to Krish.
“Tall one? Curly hair?”
“Yeah that one.”
“No clue, man. Hot, no? Wait, let me find out. Priya knows a couple of Raghav’s friends.”
He goes off to get my drinks.
God! That damn Priya would come along now. I hate that little piece of shit. Bloody jhola-waali arty-farty snob. God knows what Krish sees in her.
Krish’s got two mugs of beer with him. Good bloke, that one.
But he’s got Priya with him too. Damn.
“Hey Lucky, that’s Raghav’s older sister. Suparna. Doctorate student. Smart as shit, I hear.”
“Hmm,” I grumble, and sip my beer.
“And why do you want to know, musclehead?” Priya asks.
I don’t reply. This one’s real snarky.
Krish cuts in quickly, “Whatever is she doing in an undergrad party?”
“I don’t know. Just over a breakup or something. Not that beefcake here will have a shot with her. Big biceps and a six-pack aren’t enough for a woman like her.”
Man, I’m telling you, if this Priya would have been a man, she’d have been in hospital by now. But you can’t hit a girl, no? That’s a big no-no.
“Okay man, Krish. Thanks for the beer.”
“Sure, man. Bar’s open all night. Get sloshed, alright?”
“Best of luck, Lucky boy.”
I ignore the last quip, and walk away. Man, that bitch!
I finish off a couple more mugs of beer.
We’ll have to get Harjeet back to his dorm in some time. He’s already drunk too much.
Puru and Vaidehi had danced enough with each other, I think. Puru’s standing outside with the smokers. He smokes. Bad for the rugby, man. I tried a drag or two once. Tastes like shit too.
Suparna is still there on the dance floor. She looks like she’s in the same condition as Harjeet. Still pretty thought. Too damn pretty.
Man, these relationship things. They fuck up your mind. Look at me, all happy and all!
“Hey, you wanna dance?”
“Of course I wanna dance. The question is, would I wanna dance with you.”
“The answer is yes.”
Nice! Bless my whatever stars!
We walk up to the dance floor. In her high heels, she’s nearly as tall as me. Long legs. I decide that I like her legs. A lot. Not model legs and all, I hate those. She must be into running or something, fine legs. Highjumper legs.
Highjumper body too. Long, lean, wiry. Small torso. No extra mass, no bulk. Small tits. No ass.
Perfect body, man, perfect body. Athlete’s body.
Curly hair… I have this thing for curly-haired girls.
Perfect face too.
Goddammit, am I falling in love or something?
“Were you ever a highjumper?”
She looks at me with a totally weirded out expression.
“You aren’t too good with pickup lines, are you?” And then, after a second’s pause, “Yes. How did you know?”
“Ahem…” What do I say? That you have a highjumper’s body, which I was ogling at all this while? Bloody hell I’m bad at this.
“Anyway, I’m Suparna. Call me Soup. You?”
“Lucky. Lucky Gowda.”
“Lucky! So are you?”
“I am, right now.”
Whoah! C’mon! I’m so fuckin’ kicked with me right now! Right said, Lucky boy!
She lowers her head slightly, raises her eyebrows, curls her lips and says, “Impressive!”
So we dance. She dances well. I dance as bad as one possibly can.
Think she should stop drinking. This would be the time I’d tell Harjeet or Venky or Puru that they’ve had enough, and drag them back to the dorm.
Anyway, her life and all. Good only. If she was sober, she’d not dance with musclehead, would she?
The lights go dim. They announce that they’d play some slow song. That stupid Eagles song my first year roommate used to play all the time on the guitar. Love will keep us alive. Keep us alive my foot. Love will fuck you up, man.
But wait. Slow dance? All holding and all? Goddammit, with Soup here? Fuck, man!
Maybe she will walk off now.
No she wouldn’t. She doesn’t.
She throws her arms around me and puts her face over my shoulder. My right shoulder.
Good thing she’s tall. Over my shoulder is better than on my shoulder.
Now how do I do it? I wrap my arms around her or just hold her by the hips?
Good that she’s wearing a dress. If it was one of those bare-torso things… Man, if I’d have to touch skin, I’d explode in my pants, man!
I am having a hard-on. Briefs, not boxers, thank you Good Lord!
I push my ass back slightly. Man, I’d not want her to feel my erection. That’d be fuckin’ embarrassing!
The music starts.
Now what? I move or I stay still?
Naah, just follow her rhythm.
She moves ever so slightly. To the right, to the left. To the music. Her face over my shoulder.
“Okay, Mr. Gowda, would you be a gentleman and go light this cigarette for me from somewhere?”
I was about to tell her that I don’t smoke, but I change my mind. “Okay”.
So I go to the cigarette folks at the corner and ask for a light.
I know a couple of the cigarette guys.
I ask “Hey, have you seen Puru around?”
“Puru? Yeah man. He tried some hash and kinda passed out. So they took both Harjeet and him to the dorm. You sports types shouldn’t try the harder stuff.”
“Yeah, whatever. Vaidehi? You know, that third year girl. Fair, long hair.”
“She’s there only. Dance floor. Didn’t you see her? By the way, who’s that girl you were dancing with, man?”
“Fuck off, dude.”
Vaidehi’s on the dance floor?
While taking the cigarette back, I take a look at the dance floor.
What the fuck! Vaidehi’s dancing with Raghav’s gang! What the fuck!
There’ll be a fight now.
A fight’s okay, but Raghav is Soup’s brother for Pete’s sake.
See, this is what happens whenever there are relationships involved! Love will keep us alive my lucky ass!
She takes a long drag and slowly lets the smoke out.
“You don’t smoke?”
“Thought so. You are a gymboy, right? The whey protein types.”
“I lift weights to build strength, not to build muscle. I am a sportsman. Rugby. Rowing. Football.”
We are silent for a while. She smokes. I fidget.
I speak up, “You don’t seem like a regular smoker.”
She again gives me that lowered head, raised eyebrows look.
“Why do you think so?”
“Y’know, I saw you were carrying a loose cigarette in your bag. Smokers carry packets.”
“It’s called a clutch. Yes, you are right. Very observant of you, Mr. Gowda. You are a smart man. And you shouldn’t look inside ladies’ handbags.”
I say “Ahem…” and go silent.
She continues to smoke.
Was she making fun of me or something? Or just trying to fuck with my mind?
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. This has been a super day.
I could ask.
I should ask.
“Ahem. Would you like to, I mean…”
“Sleep with you tonight?”
“I mean, no… I mean…”
“I would, if you have condoms at your place.”
Oh my GOD!
I would have asked her if she’d like to take a walk with me ….
“I’d take a shower if you don’t mind, Lucky.”
“You offer a towel next, you fool.”
“Sure. Sorry, sorry.”
I rummage through my cupboard. I have one outside, but I’ve been using it for the last four days or so…
I find one, a little old, but fresh and unused.
“You have slippers?”
That’s okay. My slippers are always clean.
I feel under my bed with my foot, locate the slippers, and pull them out.
“Blue and white Bata? Nice! They still make these?”
She gets off her high heels and puts on the slippers.
“You are bigfoot, aren’t you? Promising, Mr. Gowda.”
Then she takes off her dress, her bra and her panties, drops them on my bed, picks up the towel and walks into the bathroom.
While closing the door, she says, “Hope you’re not a virgin, gawker.”
It takes me a minute more to get back to my senses.
From inside the bathroom, I hear Soup’s voice. “I’ll take a bit of time, okay? I drank way too much. Let me get sober. Cannot pass out on a virgin. You’ll be scarred for life.”
Virgin my foot! I am twenty-two for God’s sake. Of course I’ve had sex. A couple of times, yeah.
I continue to stare at the bathroom door.
You know, just that length of her body from the armpit down to the hip? She doesn’t curve much, and isn’t all lines and angles either. Weird, you know.
Women I’ve seen and felt, they either curve into a nice round concave or they are down straight – like those stick-skinny model kinds. Or the super toned ones, those Olympic athletes on TV, Jessica Ennis, who come down in a V, just like we do.
She’s none of those.
I’d like to touch. The skin. She’s bloody golden, man. You know, the cover of a Gold Flake packet. That colour. Shines, man.
We had kissed. Once. Twice. She tasted strange. Good strange, not bad strange. Cigarette and lime and mint and vodka and something sweet but not too sweet and tangy and something like that. Lemonade-type, you know. Spiked lemonade. We had both had drunk too much. Our tongues were dry. Our mouths were dry. So we drank water and kissed again. She tasted all clean then. Washed and cleaned. No alcohol, no cigarette. Like a hospital.
This has been a weird day, man. Weird shit. Full mindfuck.
My phone rings.
“Mine?” The bathroom door asks in Soup’s voice.
“No, mine. I’ll take it from outside. Terrace. Okay?”
Puru. Puru slurs. I cannot make out what he says.
“What, man? Say it again.”
“You got Raghav’s sister, eh?”
“What the fuck, man?”
“Look, fuck all that. Have fun and all. Just take one photo, man.”
“What the fuck! Are you all gone mad and all? What photo?”
“Not even naked, man. Just half-dressed will do.”
“What are you saying, man? Gone mad or what? What happened?”
“You don’t know?”
“No, man. Listen. You just chill out a little bit, man. Relax. Sleep. I will see you tomorrow.”
“Fuck it, bitch. You listen to me now. This bastard Raghav has taken my Vaidehi, man. Totally all those cheapo charms and all….”
And I hear his muffled gasps.
“Oh, man. I will kill him, man. I will fuckin’ murder him. I will go to his dorm and kill him.”
“You won’t. You’d just break his leg. I’d break his leg for you, man. Relax, okay? Sleep. You are high.”
“I am fuckin’ sober, man. Listen. He’s taken my girlfriend. I’ll take his sister. And then I’ll kill him. You just get me a photo man. On your phone camera only. Not even naked, okay?”
Gasps. Sobs. “Oh God! I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him.”
You fuckin’ animal, have you lost your mind?
“Man, Lucky. You told me this, right? Bros before hos? You said this, right? So fuckin’ show me your bros before hos.”
Damn. Damn. Shitshitshit. Fuck!
“Man, Lucky! You are my brother from another mother, no? You are my brother, no? You think that snooty bitch would even look at you when she’s sober tomorrow morning?”
“Okay Puru. Go to sleep man. I will do what I can do.”
“Awesome, man! You are my brother! You rock.”
“Slept off, my virgin?” The door asks.
“No. Right here.”
I’m a musclehead. A thug. A goon.
Suppose if I do it. What will anybody do to me? What can anybody do to me?
One photo only. Who cares.
She came here. I didn’t force her to come or something.
And Puru is my brother, no? My captain. I can go to war with him. What’s in a photo?
I hear splashes of water. I look at the door.
She is cleaning up for me. For her virgin.
First Published at Out Of Print Magazine, Issue 12, September 2013