S1E30: Dignified Swapna
Recap S1E29 Harry Survives 26/11 : At the factory Harry and Khush recall the horror of the terror attack of 26/11. Harry had had a providential escape at the hotel as he passed off a group of Korean businessmen he was with, for visitors from China.
In the aftermath of 26/11, Khush – a member of the bomb squad – had identified the dildo in the metal can as such, after it had been mistaken for a bomb, causing much fear and panic in the neighbourhood.
The day following the terror attack, the car he and Shom were travelling in outside the Taj hotel, had been surrounded, its windscreen smashed and he, beaten up by a cop.
Kush had turned the incident to his advantage by calling the media and drawing much attention to himself.
“It was indeed sad that the Chief Minister of the state visited the Taj Hotel along with a movie director, after what the people of SoBo went though. It was a time to mourn and for him to pacify the sentiments of the people. Instead, all he could think of was to make a movie to help his son become a movie star,” said Harry.
“Absolutely, my very sentiments,” replied Khush.
“You were the real hero, Khush, for switching off the vibrating dildo with all the reporters and cameramen around you. You did the country a great service by garnering public attention to what was happening in the country and how it was being administered. I am even more impressed with you for joining the Bomb Squad honorary service after the terrorist attack. Keep it up. You’ve done very well in life and you’ll only do better.”
Khush bowed down to Harry for his kind words and blessings.
“I was in a state of shock for a long time and what really helped me is what I want right now. I want to vape. Do you have the stuff?” added Harry.
“Aye aye sir!” replied Khush. And he produced his vaping pen ready for use with THC and CBD in equal measure. They vaped up the entire oil in the pen and when Khush went for more, Harry stopped him. They went jogging on the 4 km periphery of the factory land, surrounded by the Sahyadri hills and a forest. They came to the spot where they once had a tennis court. Harry promised to revive it if Khush was there oftener. Raima called Khush to tell him that she just reached Swapna’s house and was in no mood to return to her apartment at Worli. Harry heard the conversation; Khush had activated the speakerphone.
“Natasha would be thrilled to have Raima with her at last,” remarked Harry.
“Sure, she’s gay, you remember how she had squeezed Raima’s boobs, when we all had come to your house the other day?” asked Khush.
Ha, why do you mind that so much if Raima doesn’t? On the contrary, you had pounced on Natasha. I wonder why you don’t entertain her. She’s pretty and sexy,” said Harry.
“Yes, she’s pretty and everything. But…”
“She’s a tease! Doesn’t go all the way; says she hates men.”
“This is so unfortunate; her dad who is no more has a lot to do with it. Poor Swapna is really worried. Do you know her story?” asked Harry.
“In bits and pieces; why don’t you tell me?”
Swapna is a strong-minded woman and the most dignified one I have ever come across. Let me tell you all that I know.”
Swapna was the perfect Indian bride; convent-educated, with a degree in Arts from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She was just what her in-laws had looked for. The father-in-law adored her. He taught her everything there was to know about his successful transport business, totally ignoring his heir; his son Rakesh who was as lazy as he was incompetent. Rakesh grudgingly agreed to hand over the reins of the business to his wife and go back to what he enjoyed doing most – hitting the bottle.
Between father-in-law and daughter-in- law, they tried their best to make Rakesh break his habit, but to no avail. For a while Swapna performed her marital duties, even though Rakesh would totter into their room, preening like a peacock, demanding to make love. There were times he would use brutal force to prove his manhood. Fortunately for her, he would be done in a few seconds. In the early days she would lie in bed wondering whether his brutish handling of her would result in breast cancer. When Rakesh was drunk, he was at his worst. She just could not sleep next to him as he lay there, passed out and stank of puke.
With time, she became more detached and left him to his own devices. When her father-in-law passed away, she moved into his bedroom and focused attention on her daughter Natasha and the business. It was only during quiet afternoons – locked in her bedroom – that she dared to let her womanly desires surface.
Natasha was five-feet-six-inches tall, fair-complexioned, shy and reserved, with thick framed glasses on a pretty face and a proportionate body. She studied Architecture at the Sir JJ School of Art & Architecture. She loved what she was learning, especially now that she was about to go into her final year. Different from the other girls in her class, she was rather serious and not really the type to let her hair down. At an age when girls fooled around, flirted and had fun, Natasha held back, secretly envying the ones who did. She often wondered whether it was because of the way things were at home. Her mother was a tad protective.
Her friends used to tell her that it was unnatural to curb her natural desires, but Natasha found it easier to go along with her mother and make her happy. After the hell her father – a man she hated – put her mother through, it was the least she could do for her poor mother. In a country where you only had to scratch the surface to see the vein of deep-rooted conservatism flowing, many adolescents complied with what their parents map out for them, leading to a large percentage of not-so-young virgins, both among men and women. By the same token, marriages arranged with the best intentions often did not work out either – as was the case with Natasha’s parents. But divorce was taboo. Thus, life went on with a high degree of tolerance and distaste for change.
Natasha knew in her heart that she had to break free. She had to get away to another country, maybe the US, where she could be free to be herself. Where she would not be bound by conventions. It abhorred her to think that if she continued to stay here, her life would end up like her mother’s. And she didn’t want a repulsive insect like her father as a husband.
Natasha was working on her latest submission – a model of a sports complex with several stadiums – when she realised that this was an overly ambitious plan and she definitely needed help. Even her teachers told her she was over-reaching her capability but this was what Natasha wanted. She wanted to prove something to herself. She asked her best friend Raima – the most brilliant student in her class – if she would mind helping her complete her project.
“No problem!” said Raima with confident ease.
This comforted Natasha who now knew that she would complete the project on time. Raima had that aura about her –she could take control and make things happen. She was older than the other girls in her class since she had joined after having worked a while. It made her more confident and attracted everyone to her like moths to a flame. There was something about her that was almost incandescent; when she was around, the day seemed a little brighter.
One day Natasha managed to get away early from college. She hurried home, eager to put in a little extra work on her project. She still had a lot to do. She needed to take pictures of the half-finished model from various angles so she could match the virtual creation with the model Raima was helping her make. After Natasha’s grandfather passed away, her mother worked mornings and late in the evenings. The afternoons were strictly her siesta time.
As Natasha tiptoed past her mother’s room, she froze. There was a weird sound coming from there, accompanied by moans. As she peeped through the slight parting in the curtain, she was aghast at what she saw – her mother, pleasuring herself with a dildo, eyes shut and oblivious to the world. Natasha ran out of the house, unsure of where she was heading. She was in a state of shock. Before she knew it, she found herself on Marine Drive. Watching the waves crash against the tetrapods, her shock gradually evaporated, making her see things more dispassionately.
Was there anything else her mother could do? After so many years of frustration, could she really be blamed? Maybe this was a lot better than engaging in mindless affairs to get rid of the pain. She was human after all. If her mother had wanted, she could have sought companionship from another man but she chose to satisfy her desires privately without bringing judgement or shame on her daughter’s life. Her mother, she thought, was in fact an admirable lady.
Natasha’s mind was in such turmoil, she just had to talk to someone. And Raima was the only person she could think of confiding in.
Raima was an attractive girl with a flawless wheat complexion, although not many of her classmates found her beautiful. Not that it really mattered since she found most of them childish. Natasha in her thick black glasses and Raima with her aloofness were almost misfits in their class; no wonder they got on famously.
The British had left Indians with a colour complex. It was apparent in the growing sales of whitening creams for both, men and women. However, this darkey, who was an inch taller than Natasha, was a sultry twenty-four year old babe with a perfectly desirable body. She was by far the best in the class and a favourite amongst the teachers.
When Raima heard what Natasha had to say, she was sympathetic, clutching Natasha’s hand while listening to her. Not surprisingly, they considered men as the most selfish, uncouth and incompetent of all beings. And most Indian men were unimpressive when it came to looks. Natasha had no intention of marrying an Indian. She had always wanted to go to the US for her master’s degree and settle there with a nice job and eventually marry there. She wanted a husband, but one who would treat her as an individual and not as a commodity.
Raima, on the other hand, had no intention of getting married to an Indian or otherwise, not after her share of nasty experiences. She did not think men were worth fussing over. A live-in relationship was all she would consider, if at all.
One evening after college, Raima and Natasha headed over to Japengo Café in CR2 to discuss the project. There seemed to be a problem with the space available for the changing area, washrooms and storage. After a long debate, Raima suggested accommodating them in the basement along with car parking. Thrilled with the solution, Natasha threw her arms around Raima, thanking her profusely. This is why she treasured her friendship with Raima. She could count on Raima for anything.
Spending so much time with Natasha brought Raima close to Natasha’s mother Swapna, whom she got along well with and had begun to care for, deeply. Swapna too loved having Raima around. She treated Raima as a second daughter while Raima was more than willing to run errands or do odd jobs for her. Realising her potential, Swapna involved her in the family business too, taking enough care that it did not interfere with her studies. Raima was more than thrilled to do this, especially when she had to accompany her to important meetings as her deputy. It wasn’t long before she became part of the family. When Natasha’s father, Rakesh was on his deathbed due to cirrhosis of the liver, it was Raima who was there by Natasha’s and Swapna’s side, holding their hands throughout the ordeal.
To be continued…