I was thirty. Yet I was single though I was very much willing and open to mingle. One obstacle remained. I was not willing to marry in the timetested Indian way of marrying what is called as an arranged marriage. You get a bride chosen or selected by your parents and elders. I was for love marriage, the western way. The problem was I was extremely shy so far as interactions of any nature with women were concerned. So days passed by and I had almost resigned myself to a permanent bachelor’s life. Parents were concerned as I was the eldest of their five sons. My younger brothers were each just 1 and half year younger than the immediately preceding ones. So for them I was unnecessarily causing delay in their marraiges as being the eldest I enjoyed the privilege to marry first. I could feel their frustrations and told them repeatedly to go ahead in their marriage plans leaving me to myself. But they couldn’t break the social custom, instead they chaffed and snapped at me. They were miserable and made me miserable. But I was determined to marry if only I fell in love, otherwise not.

All of my friends were married by then. In indian society you married as soon as you got a job, with the exception in case you had one or more marriageable sisters. Then you waited till they were married off. I was doing a govt. job for the past seven years and none of my sisters were of marriageable age. So how could the delay of my marriage be explained by my parents to other relatives or by me to my friends? Shy as I was, how could I say I was not to marry unless I fell in love ? O.K. in short I was in a bind, I was bound by myself. With an extremely introverted and shy nature I was never to draw any woman to myself, this was a fact I was dead sure in my gut feelings. I didn’t have an inkling then of the havoc, the hurricane this one decision of mine was to cause later on. When I set out to write this story I thought I would just narrate the incidents as they happenned and I am going to stick to that decision. But where to begin,from which vantage point the storm, the hurricane, the cyclone, that was the love when it unfolded, were to be described so that the readers get a fuller,complete view of things as they happenned, that I find difficult to decide. In fact, I feel I am not equal to the task and that is the reason why in spite of so many resolutions to write this story it couldn’t be written so far. I have been putting it off so many times to some other days, some other times but the story demands expressions and I am helplessly dragged to its sway, to its appeal just as I was whirled into love helplessly one day. So God, please help me in my helplessness. I surrender myself into the moment, this moment of reckoning that I don’t want to put off any further. So here is a blow by blow account of what had happenned.

I had been served a stern notice from my landlord to vacate his house within fifteen days. Yes,It happens in India. I protested against such short notice but he was adamant. I offered him a 50% raise on the rent I was paying, yet he declined. He said he had got an offer of 300% of the rent I was paying and his tenant-to- be wanted the house within fifteen days. If I didn’t vacate he would lose that golden offer and he was determined not to let go of that. So I had to acquiesce to him and his demands although I smarted a lot under such authoritarian, arbitrary action. I set out to search for a house. Where to find a house at such short notice in such a large city ? I was worried like hell. I heard that a friend was vacating the house he had rented. So I met him and he confirmed that it was true. He said he had already shifted but as he had paid the rent till the end of the month the key to the house was still with him. He agreed to show me the house and we set off on his bike. Just as we got down the bike at the gate of the compound, a woman passed by us who came from inside the premises. She looked at me straight in the eyes and unusually didn’t lower or avert her eyes away, so I had to lower my eyes after a few seconds. We passed each other and a little later I remarked to my friend,” What sort of women you have here that they look at you straight in the eyes and never lower their eyes?”
My friend jocularly agreed and said, “Yes,they do.” And we let the matter rest there. He opened the house and we went in. To say that that was a house would be wrong. That was just a room with a four by four feet kitchen. He pointed to a row of three latrines at a little distance which around ten familes in the compound used and shared among themselves. I could share those too, if I chose to stay there. As for bathing he pointed at a well in the compound which was the common bathing ghat or platform for all families. One flimsy, rickety bathroom was there beside the well but that was solely for the ladies. It was completely a new experience. I had never been in that sort of house before, yet I had to accept that with gratitude because within that short time no other alternative was there. We went to the landlord and my friend introduced me and I paid one month rent as advance as demanded and we left the place.

A few days later we moved in, myself and Suresh, my younger brother who was born a year and a half after me, who was also staying with me. He too was doing a job like me in another Govt office in the same city. I had a large collection of books with me, some of which I was to lose in this cramped and damp house to the termites as I had to pile them in whereever I found some space, under the cot, in the shelf, on the skylight etc. from which I couldn’t take many of them out even if I wanted to read. That was an unfotunate thing to have happened but I have to leave them here as I have set out to write a love story, the story of my romantic involvement with a woman who won’t be bound by any restraint, won’t be caged in however gilded and hallowed a cage and who won’t leave me, in the least,as she found me. She was a woman who would dance only to the tune of her heart’s beats and accordingly she had found steps to go along with it.

That was Nisha, the very same woman whom you have already met, the woman who had looked straight into my eyes as I encountered her at the gate of the housing colony I was to live in. Since the time I moved in, I felt I was under her constant watch. As I was extremely shy I usually lowered or averted my eyes away as they met hers and put her watchings to just her curiosity which she might be sharing with all other men and women of the colony. I didn’t read too much into her curious gaze at me. Her house was just ten feet away from mine. As I kept open my door at all hours of the day and quite late into the nights to get some ventilations to that jam packed room and as I had just that one room, anybody could see whatever I was doing in my room. So could Nisha too, more easily from her vantage point of a raised veranda in front her house where she sat most of her free time. She was at first glance not that strikingly beautiful. She was rather plain and ordinary looking. She had by then put on a bit of weight after being the mother of two boys and well after ten years of marriage. While she sat on the veranda, a couple of yards away from me, she was very often accompanied by her husband and her children. I tried to avoid meeting their eyes which were always trained upon me, a most shy newcomer to their immediate neighbourhood.

She didn’t lose much time in talking to me. One day, may be a couple of days after I moved in, from the veranda she sat, being accompanied with her husband and children, she asked me about the place, the district I came from and the office I worked in. As I replied to her queries it was discovered that we both belonged to the same district. A few questions later we found she was youger to me by only two years. But the question she put me a couple of days later was the most surprising and embarassing one for me. She asked, from the same place and while being surrounded by her husband and children,” Do you go to the fields outside to attend to the calls of nature ?” I was embarassed at her question of such private nature but I found she had done her research well. As the place was at the outskirt of the city, just beside the airport, where planes used to land or take off just above our heads, I found there was a large field beside the airport which reminded me of my village where we used to go to fields in the early mornings to attend to the calls of nature. I actually went there for the early morning job. Afterwards I went to a nearby pond, which was on a private property, to do the washings like so many other persons did and thereafter returned to my den. I was surprised that even this fact didn’t escape her notice. She warned me never to go to that pond again as, according to her, I might contact serious diseases as that pond was used by almost a thousand of “scums, bums, lepers and wretches of society”. Really I stopped going there since that day, she had scared me so much! But she also left me wondering as to why she took so much interest in me. She was the only exception in my life, no other woman, except my family, took any interest in me. I was in a state of bewilderment and puzzle.

But Nisha didn’t keep me in that state long. One day, as soon as her husband and my brother had left for their office, it happenned that both of them worked in the same office, she came to my room. She wanted to say something serious and earnest to me. I motioned her to my chair, the only chair in the room and I sat on my bed. She made a dramatic announcement at the outset. “The story I am going to tell you now has been known so far to only two human beings. After I have told you it will also be limited to two human beings only. Can you see how ?” I expressed my inability to solve the conundrum. She said that was because the other one besides her who knew that was dead. She said she assumed that I was never going to tell that to anybody else.I promised I would never. Then she told her story.

When she was at school she loved a boy named Hari. They were class mates and they also belonged to the same village. Both were madly in love with each other. Both had promised to marry after he got a job at the end of their studies. But her parents after coming to know of their clandestine love affair searched frantically for a young man to marry her off. Thus she was married off to her husband at the tender age of seventeen, just after her school exam had been over. Just before the day of her marriage Hari had called on her and they had had a long chat. He had wept and was disconsolate but little did she know that that would be their last meeting. The next day as she was leaving her village, after the marriage ceremony was over, sitting in a car, beside her husband, she saw a bier being carried by some men coming from the opposite direction of the road. As the bier passed, by her side of the car, she could recognise just in time that it was her Hari lying dead in it. She could barely restrain herself from stretching her hand out and stroking his face with her fingers.

After that it was all a blur for her how she reached her husband’s home and like an automaton she kept on doing all that was demanded of her. She was losing her consciousness often and going into repeated faints and people put that to her leaving her family and dear ones behind. She said she gradually became adept in keeping all her grief to herself and yet somehow managing to do all that was expected of her. But in her heart of heart the sorrow of Hari’s death always kept on smoldering. What a great loss ! That boy couldn’t know the life he was meant to know. Before he could enjoy life, his life was snuffed out at such a tender age! Thus she came to the end of her story with a deep sigh. Her eyes were red with tears. Her ordinary, plain face till that time had assumed a tragic dimension I had never associted with her.

I heard her out and expressed my sorrow at her loss. But I was even more puzzled as to why did she have to tell her story, to me of all persons, that she had kept private for a decade long, not even telling her huband, why? I put the question to her. But what came in reply was even more puzzling. She replied, ” You looked exactly like Hari. The day I saw you with your friend at the gate, I could hardly take my eyes off you. I was surprised at the resemblance of your face with Hari’s. He would have been exactly like you had he been alive. Your eyes, your nose, your lips, even your hairs which are always in disarray resemble exactly like his. I became happy when you moved in. Every day I have loved watching you since you came and I feel I am with Hari again.Today I thought I would bare it all.”

I protested,” But you know now better that I am not Hari. I am Paresh. However my appearances resemble his, I can’t be him. I can’t even love you as he would have.”

She said she could trust me and love me as Hari. She said I was God sent for her, she had absolute faith in me that I was as lovable as her Hari was. In fact, Hari and I were one for her, she could see no differences.

We talked through out that day about her past in detail. Then the talk spilled over to the next day and then to the next day. It went on and on. She too lapped up everything I talked about myself and to my surprise even demanded more. It seemed as if I could talk no nonsense, no rubbishes. It was a completely different experience from being carped, commented and interrupted by friends and family, as I used to be before. I had never seen a better and more patient listener. I too listened to her till she was through. When one talked the other just listened, soaked in. There was absolutely no interruptions from the other side. There was the least judgements of the other or of anybody else in those conversations. It was straight from each other’s hearts, those feelings and thoughts which were never expressed before because there was nobody to listen to them without questioning, interrupting and complaining. I didn’t know one could be happy for as little a blessing as having a nonjudgemental companion. I had thought that I could never be happy unless I owned a lot of money and a lot more books than I had. But here was something strange happening to me while I was with her! I never felt the lack of money, in fact money didn’t ever barge into our conversations. As for books I rarely fell on them as I used to previously at all hours of the day and night. The books I had with me seemed to be more than enough that I would be ever in need of. Her infinite and inexhaustible patience in listening and nonjudgemental attitude to everything and everybody put me at ease and I began to shed oodles of my complexes and shyness. For the first time I began to feel that I was a man, someone important, at least in someone’s eyes. I began to walk with more confidence, I became less awkward and diffident among people and like her when I talked with anybody I began to look straight into his eyes. I began to love her and felt grateful to her for doing all that to me. As for her, even to this day it has been a mystery to me as to what she had lacked that made her fall at my feet, as it were, to love her and talk to her apart from the reason, not at all convincing to me, that I looked exactly like her dearly departed lover, Hari. But God’s ways are mysterious, so were hers. I let myself trust in her. I thought I had nothing to lose, except may be my virginity which I was in any way dying to lose for some time.

It became a routine for her to come to my room as soon as her husband and my brother had departed for office and she had sent her sons to school . Those sessions of talks lasted for more than four hours at a stretch each and only ended due to some external exigencies like my having to go to work or internal emergencies like serious pangs of hunger or having to attend a call of nature. But as I returned from work at night and she had cooked dinner for her family and had fed them, again she would come to my room and we would resume from where we had left till it was midnight. I remember once she left for her home at 11.30p.m.after we had talked for more than two hours. I thought after so much talking I couldn’t fall asleep unless I read for at least half an hour. So I shut the door and took out a book to read. I was finding it difficult to concentrate and my mind wandered. Just about half an hour later, a little past midnight, I heard a light knock on the door and when I opened it was Nisha on the outside. I asked her what had happened ? She replied that she could see light in my room still burning, so could she come in for some more talks? I laughed at her madness and gently shooed her away. I wondered did she forget that she had a husband very much present in the house even though at that moment might be deep in his sleep. I had thought that only men could be foolish in love, women were always grounded in realities. But she seemed to prove me wrong on many points besides that.

It was nothing short of jugglery on our part to keep talking for hours and at the same time keep some of our major engagements, commitments,duties and responsibilities alive in our mind and to some extent get them accomplished. But those were heady days and nights. If anything got neglected and as a result any of us got scolded or punished it was never mentioned to the other. We tolerated all as martyrs in the cause of love. Didn’t we know that everything in life came with a price ? And the more precious the thing the greater was the price to pay? To cook my food twice a day, doing a job, buying vegetables, grocery etc from the market and attending to those calls of nature in a housing colony which provided only the barest minimum or modicum of facilities of them and yet at the same time keep talking for hours with a woman who thought you were the most brilliant talker she had heard in her life was a task fit for only tougher men than I but love made me do all those and even some more. On her part it was even a far greater ordeal. She had to cook for and feed a family besides doing many other household chores.

We were conducting those marathon sessions of talks in my room which was almost like a open space as the road into the colony encircled it and everyone passing by could see us both always talking. And there were so many prying eyes. Yet disregarding all, she came to my room and spent the larger part of the days and some part of the nights with me. She sat on my chair, actually that became her chair, her usual place to sit on, at a distance of two and a half feet away from me, her legs sometimes tucked in under the chair and sometimes extending them to my cot for a change in position to make her comfortable. It was an ordeal sitting like that for hours and only the most determined ones could carry it off. I was no God, no Moses, no Buddha or Krishna. Yet she listened to whatever I said with complete attention. It was all humbling and mysterious to me. I knew then and now that my talks were not inspired or life giving or lifting or even positive in the conventional sense, yet she displayed an unusual and unaccountable interest in them. Today while writing this a profound sense of love and pity for her wells up in me that she had squndered so much of her time in listening to someone who was a rank and out mediocre person and a poor conversationalist. I wish she had heard Eckhert Tolle or Wayne Dyer or Byron Katie. She was deserving of a far greater man, yet she seemed even content with me. There was no trace of comparison, no accusation of having let her down in any way, she was just content with what she had. I,her dearest Hari, was returned to her, a gift to her from God, and she won’t, as it were, count the teeth of a gift horse.

But I was not a gift horse, not even a horse. I was a man, that too an ordinary man, irrespective of what she thought of me. In the mean time a full month had passed with our incessant talking and sharing. One day, leaving her usual seat of her chair, she sat on my table beside my bed on which usually I read my books and for the last month or so I was resting my hands while I was talking to her. The table was a medium sized one and she could sit on it comfortably. Sometimes she dangled her legs down and sometimes she tucked them under her. That day it was her that did the most of the talking. I was all attention to her words as usual. But now that she had sat just a feet and a half away from me, her bodily gestures too assumed a life size attraction for me. I could even smell her and the smell of a woman was also playing havoc with my feelings. Every sensation was magnified and having some heightened effect on my perception of her. She looked extremely beautiful. She was laughing a lot that day and each time she laughed she looked lovelier and lovelier. I had never seen any one else whose face changed so completely from being an ordinary one to the most extraordinarily beautiful with the appearance of a smile. She had worn a red blouse which made her look even more ravishingly beautiful. Her so much proximity, her scent, her joyful laughter, her red blouse and her gay abandonment of all social norms and customs made her so desirable to me that I thought I would burst if I didn’t express my feelings. Just at that moment she lifted both her hands up and began to untie and tie again her strands of hair in to a bun. Her eyes were on me, I knew, but I chose to fix my eyes on her breasts which were jutting forth prominently in that straight posture while she sat erect tying her hair.

I said,” If you forgive me, I want to tell you some thing.”

She replied,” Go ahead.”

I said,” Your breasts are lovely. I have an irresistible desire to hold them.”

I thought I had uttered the unmentionable. I had made a breach of trust. I felt guilty and waited for the punishment to come. But what she replied was a complete surprise for me.

She replied,” I have been waiting to hear these words for a month. Any other man would have said these and much more within the first few days, especially after I had offered my love to you on a platter on the very first day. That you took so long to express them shows that you have a lot of restraint. I admire your kind of men.”
“There is nothing I can’t do for you. When Hari was alive, during some nights he was insistent on having sex with me, but I always refused. Since his death I have always repented for having deprived him the joy he could have known if I hadn’t refused. I won’t do the same mistake again. If you really want it I am prepared to go the whole hog with you, including sex. If you don’t want it I am content with you as you have been for the last one month.” She finished her words and smiled at me with her inimitable radiant face whenever she smiled. I couldn’t believe my ears. That I was lovable to someone was more than enough for me. Now to know that I am even acceptable for sex to her was heady and giddy enough. I thanked her and God for this miracle. I was grateful to both of them for their mysteriousness and large heartedness. I was sure I didn’t deserve any of this good fortune.

I spent the rest of the day and the night thinking how could we have sex in this colony of ten families with so many prying eyes. I couldn’t find a full proof plan. Every plan had some gaping holes in it. At last, having tired myself of devising plans after plans, I surrendered myself to God and Nisha, the two most ingenious, resourceful and mysterious elemental powers in my life and fell asleep.

The next day, in the usual hour as always, Nisha came to my room and sat on the chair. She was about to say something and I interrupted her for the first time. I said,” Nisha, for God’s sake don’t say anything today. Just tell me what have you thought about sex, our sex, between you and me and tell me where can we have it now.”

She was surprised at my insistence for a thing for which apparently I was not interested till yesterday. I too could see the comic aspect of the thing, though I was not at all non-serious or not making my demand as a joke. I was earnest, serious and at the same time felt comic. Sex always has a comic aspect to it, especially when it is watched detachedly from the outside. But from the inside it is a deadly serious thing, not to be trifled with or made light of. When I said that I was serious. Nisha replied,” Not today, tomorrow.” It was a great dampener. But at least I was given a hope to look forward to. I said,” Nisha, do you know, what I was thinking of ? If you were available for sex since a month, what was the use of those rubbish I was talking all the while? Let me confess it all now. Seducing you was the only motive behind those talks. Even behind my Adwaitin talks, those talks of and about non-duality or Oneness seduction was the real motive. They were just long detours to the same destination. In fact, since I entered my teen, say at thirteen or fourteen, I have not done a single thing or not said a single word to any woman, outside of my family, when seduction was out of my mind. I am as if a preprogrammed, hardwared sex machine who could behave or think no other way. That I gave you an unmistakable impression of rare restraint might be due to the same relentless and sophisticated programming which could surprise me into doing things I had never imagined. Anyway, You could have cut down those rubbishes and said to me ” Stop talking, get down to the real business.” She laughed and looked even more desirable.

The next day came. When I asked Nisha,” What have you thought about our sex? Do you think we can have it today?”

Mysteriously she replied,” Not today. Some other day.”

Thereafter, each day I was replied the same answer. Frankly, I began to have serious reservations about her intentions. In a suspicious state of mind I began to see faults with her which were previously showing as her strength. And as I felt the feelings of separation from her I suffered as a consequence. I began to glorify those days in which I hadn’t known any woman nor their mysterious ways. I began to see the good of my bachelor days. And all the while I suffered.

One day I couldn’t take it any more. As Nisha came to my room at the usual hour, I didn’t ask her the usual question. I pronounced her my final verdict. I said,” Nisha, don’t say the usual, not today, some other day thing again. It is today or never. If it is a no, then don’t come to my room again from tomorrow. I have not been able to sleep for the last two nights under this tension of to be or not to be. I hate to be kept dangling under tenterhooks of any sort.” Seeing my vehemence she, the mysterious one, took hold of my hands and told me to follow her to her house. I locked my door and meekly followed her.

Till that day I had never gone to her house. Her house was much more spacious than mine. It had privacy but as I later came to know from her that it was the very privacy that she feared most. As she explained, in my room she feared none as it was like holding talks with a man in the open, in front of hundred eyes. People didn’t have anything to imagine. But inside her house, provided with all privacies that a family needed, people would imagine everything because they couldn’t see anything. They just needed to see me come into or go out of her house. I liked her reasoning and understanding of things, her foresight and cautiousness behind her seemingly daring behaviour in flouting some social norms.

The room was dark even at noon as she had drawn all her door and window curtains. As I was going to shut the door behind me she forbade me to do so. She wanted to let the door remain widely open so that none could imagine anything. She led me to her bed and as I lay on her bed she draped a mosquito net over me and quietly moved in beside me. She instructed me to lie motionless in case any body should come into her room. She was sure in that darkened room and inside the colored mosquito net I should not be visible to anybody. She would meet the intruder at the door and dispatch him from there. Oh, God, how meticulously she had planned everything. Compared to her intelligence I was a novice. Compared to her plan my plans were childish. I surrendered myself to her care and meticulousness and concentrated on love making for which this elaborate arrangement and plannings had been made.

The much awaited time had come. She was lying beside me. I was full of excitement. My heart was pounding furiously loud and fast agaist my chest. This was going to be my first sexual experience of which I had seen so many dreams in my sleep and wakeful moments. I began to kiss her and fondle her breasts. My restless hands went on exploring and stroking every inch of her body. She seemed to me like an unknown and unchartered continent of which I was the explorer. My hands reached to every cranny, nook and corner of her body. Simultaneously our lips were locked in a prolonged kiss, to say more accurately as if she was a glass of beverage of the sweetest make and I was drinking and draining her out slowly. A short while later as my fingers explored the inside of her vagina, I had a mad desire to see its inside. I sat up at her feet and parted her legs and tried to peer into her inside in that darkened room. She quickly understood my intention. She sprang up with a jerk and in a moment got out of the bed and I thought I had perhaps committed some blunder of which she had taken an umbrage. She went straight to a cupboard and brought something and handed that over to me. I was flabbergasted to find that it was a torch light. She said,” If you must see, see it clearly and thoroughly and get over this obsession for ever.”

I was beside myself with joy at her gesture of generosity and magnanimity. I knew no better words to describe it. Yes, I saw her inside clearly and thoroughly under the bright light of the flashlight. I found love in all her glory sitting within pitching her tents. As a confession I may say now that I proved Nisha wrong for once. I haven’t yet got over “this obsession”, in fact I have steeped myself more and more into it. Yet I don’t feel any sense of guilt; I feel pure and innocent. I have not yet understood why one part of our anatomy, say face, be so much praised and poeticized and another part condemned or considered lowly.

When I entered her, after my inspection was over, she was all soft, supple, tender, juicy and full of love. In the course of an hour I spent with her that day I spilled my seeds twice besides being glued to her body all the time, cuddling, caressing,kissing and stroking her. I had a strong feeling all the while that as if life was loving itself and being loved through me and her. As if we both were not part of time in the moments when we loved. As if we were eternally present, had a most ancient origin and there was no time when we both were not present. We were the eternal lovers. When finally I took leave of her and took those three or four strides that carried me to my place, I felt that those were the biggest strides I had ever taken. From a chrysalis I had become a butterfly, from a thirty year diffident boy I had suddenly grown into a man. Yes, I can vouchsafe it, a woman can make a man of you if only she is intent as Nisha had been. And I stand guarantee that you will love the experience as she reshapes you by her flame of love and attention. Of course, a woman can also unman you with her cold stares and rude words; but that is another story with another woman which I may write some other day. I was and still am grateful to God and Nisha for doing all she did for me besides letting me enjoy a natural joy of which even the tiniest creatures are not deprived of. She did all that free, without any charge, with no string attached. Therein lies the beauty and mystery of it. Glory be to God and women like her. She had the deepest impact on my life.