Archive for June, 2012


I remember vividly something otherworldly that I had experienced when I was a boy of ten. Not out of the body experiences as some experience but something mysterious and vivid yet. And this happened just once only. Let me narrate it. It happened in an evening. There was a river flowing beside the village I was born. Every evening we, 5 to 10 boys of the village, gathered on the sandy bank of the river to play and run about. That was a full moon evening. That evening as I reached there for playing I found no one which was unusual. The whole river and the landscape were filled with bright moonlight but no one was there. As that was my usual playground I was little afraid of anything or anyone. A fair weather road of sand, mud and red morhum pebbles passed through the river but it was very sparsely populated at that hour. I waited for my friends. After about an hour as none turned up I began to sing a kirtan out of frustration. In the beginning it was to amuse myself, to keep my mind occupied, to shed some of my nervousness which a ten year old felt when forced to be on his own, may be for the first time of his life. But as the evening wore on and yet not a soul was to be seen anywhere then I began to sing loudly, as loud as I could be, “with full-throated ease” as Keats would have described. I think I must have sung loudly for about half an hour, more out of boredom and loneliness than because of any religious fervor. Why I chose to sing kirtan was easy to explain; it was because kirtan was the only form of poetry I had seen people sing in groups in public. A few years later I would be initiated into the films and film songs and then all the vestiges of poetry of any other kind including the kirtans would simply recede into the background of my mind as a result of the strong gales of Hindi film songs. But that was yet to come. At the age of ten kirtans ruled.

But Though I liked kirtans yet I didn’t pay much attention to their words nor I was serious enough to make myself commit them to memory painstakingly. As a result, that evening when it became my lot to fall on my resources to amuse myself I discovered that the paucity, the poverty or the scantiness of my resources was glaring. I couldn’t sing even a single kirtan in its entirety; I couldn’t proceed beyond the opening stanza of any song. So within that half an hour of singing “with full-throated ease” I must have sung the opening stanzas of five or six kirtan songs whereas only one full kirtan would have been sufficient to fill that much of time. However, what is the use of judging the activities of a ten year old from the vantage point of a mature man? Suffice it to say that I was trying my best to keep away my nervousness and boredom by singing and by filling the empty, lonely time of the evening as best as I could possibly think of. Suddenly I noticed a man passing on the road stop in his track and take a turn to face me. He was nobody I knew of, none of my relatives or acquaintances.

He was on the road, about 25 feet away from me. He called me to himself accompanied with a few gestures of his hands and I could see the movements of his hands from that distance quite clearly in that moonlit evening. I obeyed not without a considerable amount of curiously. Also in that hither -to -unusual lonely evening even the presence or company of a complete stranger was better than no company at all. So I complied unhesitatingly. As I came to him the first thing that stroke me was his face. It was unlike any I had seen. He was handsome, noble and as urbane and majestic as the Buddha himself. Unlike many young men who finding me alone called me to themselves and asked many frivolous, spurious and salacious questions; there was not a trace of frivolity in him. There was only an honesty, a nobility of purpose and manner with him and he had that intangible quality that I found in some rare men which invariably I could recognize but failed to describe in words that made me respect, revere and love the person before me. He straightforwardly without any ado asked me to sing the song/kirtan that I was singing as he came. That mysterious request made me nervous and shy. But as he insisted on listening, I had to comply. As I sang the song I found I was extremely shy and all my earlier spontaneity when I was alone and singing to myself was gone. I knew I must have cut a very sorry and awkward figure to him as I seemed to myself too. Yet surprisingly I found him listening intently with rapt attention, with his eyes closed. As I finished he opened his eyes and requested me to sing the song again. This time I complied most willingly and happily but not without considerable amount of disbelief. Such a poor singer and such a bad memorizer like me and yet this kind of unalloyed, pure interest and a flame like steady attention! From a person with such a royal and upright demeanor! For the first time in my life I experienced in those moments the cleansing, overwhelming and overpowering power of unconditional and uncritical listening. It filled me with a joy and lightness of being which I had never experienced before. Let me remind you again that I was not a good singer but that hitherto unknown feeling of being accepted completely as I was with all my shortcomings and deficits by someone so noble made me much more relaxed and at home. So this time I tried to sing as I had been singing when I was alone just before he had appeared on the scene. He was all ears to my song in that unforgettable moonlit night and he was the kind of listener every great or small singer always wished for. As a premonition and foretaste of things to come much ahead in future it served me well when I found the same kind of acceptance from some western men and women to some of my stories and writings.

As I finished my song, actually It was only a stanza from a kirtan for that was all I could remember, for the first time in my life how I wished that I had remembered the whole song to myself so that I could have served him more, sung him more, made it possible for him to listen to me more. I would have loved to sing to him the entirety of that kirtan itself. What a lovely experience it was! In fact what wonderful experiences all such sharings were which broke down all the barriers between two human beings and opened up all the possibilities for a heart to heart communication that established that “all life was one”, that “the Buddhas and all the other sentient beings are but aspects of the Universal Mind only,” that “all distinctions are but falsely imagined”.

At the end of my singing he nodded his head vigorously in appreciation, opened his eyes and after a bit of fumbling in his shirt pocket mysteriously fished out something and while offering it to me with an extended hand I saw that it was a coin. As I eagerly extended my hand towards his hand that held the coin, it seemed to me he dropped the coin in front of me just as my hand was about to touch his. To this day I am not sure whether the coin had just slipped out of his hand just before I could hold it or it was deliberately dropped on the sand so that he could make good his escape while I was furiously searching for the coin which was submerged in the sand as it fell from his hand. I had never expected any reward or money from him; it was a pure joy to serve him. Such a perfect listener I had never seen before. Nor did I know the power of unconditioned, attentive listening that shook me to my roots and filled me with such peace and emotions as I had never known before. So expecting any other reward or remuneration from him was out of my mind. But as the shiny coin flashed in the bright moonlight I was so overwhelmed by a feeling of having been considered worthy of a reward from such a tall, erect and noble personage that my joy knew no bound and as I looked around to say a thank you or a namaste to him who meant so much to me he was of course nowhere to be found. I should have run half a mile on the road in the direction he was going when I first saw him, but the lucre in my hand had begun to work its magic. Relegating the man who could have been my savior, my benefactor, my Buddha, to a corner of my mind I hurriedly ran to one of the village stores and bought the largest sugar candy in that store. The joy on getting that coin as a reward has not been lost on me even today almost after half a century and the intensity of that joy could only be experienced by a ten year old child whom none had given a coin till that day. The joy of buying the largest sugar candy in that store was also a dream come true for him. So the sugar candy gave much joy till it lasted. But afterwards I was filled with remorse. For a piece of sugar candy I lost sight of a holy man! I wonder why did I always have to find myself digging up a coin in the sand just at the moment I was very near to my nirvana? Why do I have to always lose myself in satisfying a long standing or a passing craving, say like buying the largest sugar candy in a store, while right before me was the Buddha himself whose feet I could have washed with my tears or at whose feet I could have learnt the wisdom that delivered one from all sufferings? Why did I have to bury all my talents in sands while trying to find out a coin? I am saying this because this has been a recurring, sad feature in my life.

At that moment the importance of the event was lost on me, I was only overjoyed by the monetary reward/benefit. But as days went by I began to wonder who that mysterious listener was. As we never met again, I wondered if he was an angel. If so what was his message to me? To sing God’s name the rest of my life? To serve human beings as best as I could, in the way and manner available to me? To be like him, noble, upright, aristocratic and yet fully attentive to poetic, spiritual, creative and finer aspects of life wherever and whomever it might be found with? I won’t know. But as Marshal McLuhan said,”The medium is the message”; what a lovely,noble, upright medium was he! To this day as I recollect the incident a deep peace fills me. I feel as if I saw the Buddha that night. That incident has also found a prominent place among my nightly dreams with that Buddha-like regal figure raptly listening to my song with closed eyes, nodding peacefully his head in complete understanding of my foible and frailties, forgiving all my deficits and deficiencies, in the back ground of that moonlight flooded night on that solitary river bank of sand and sand dunes. Then a deep peace fills me. My eyes get blinded with golden light. When I wake up the dream goes away, but the peace stays with me. How could it be otherwise? Is not peace my real nature, my true self? Is not my small self but an aspect of the Self, the Impersonal, Universal Self?

Buddha said,”One must work diligently for one’s salvation.”
He also said that he didn’t want Nirvana till even the last blade of grass had not attained it.

I am sure one day the craving for the sugar candy will be gone. Even the craving for the salvation or the Nirvana will also be gone. The journey, the working diligently for the salvation,the effort, the process and the progress towards realization is a reward enough in itself. I think the mysterious listener of that night was a reminder to me of our potentialities and what we all are; peaceful, pure, wise, full of loving kindness and equanimity, compassionate souls.

May all find their peace and salvation. May all enjoy and experience the lightness of their beings. May all become spontaneous, trusting and joyful. I trust that Life will give us many opportunities to experience what we really are, at first hand. Thereafter there will be no prop of second hand knowledge needed. Till that time even a borrowed light is better in the dark to find our way than no light at all. Meeting that stranger was nothing less than a sacred encounter, a holy pilgrimmage.

It was one of my wife’s nephews who persuaded us, me, my wife and our two children aged 12 and 10, to make the journey from our home town, Balasore to my work place, Bhubaneswar by train. The distance between the two places was about two hundred kilometers and for decades we had been using buses to make the journey. During my student days I used to make the journeys by trains on concessional  rates for students during vacations. But after I had begun to earn I had almost abandoned the trains. On one occasion during my post-graduate college days I along with a small group of my hostel mates was returning home on vacation by train. We were chatting among ourselves while occasionally looking outside to see the trees, paddy fields, hills, villages, rivers and small stations passing by. Then night fell. Nothing was visible outside. So we continued chatting among ourselves. Suddenly a friend gave a shrill cry from five or six feet away from us. Even after thirty five years that blood curdling cry has been ringing in my ears. As we immediately reached by his side, we found him rolling on the floor, from one side of the train to the other. At first I thought the worst had happened; he had probably been stabbed. But suddenly he started crying loudly ”Shankara,(the friend who was sitting with me and his roommate) I have lost everything. Someone snatched my bag that contained all my certificates and jumped out of the train. I am ruined now. Tell me what should I do? What should I do? What should I do?” He was growing hysterical. We lifted him up, told him to calm down, assured him that duplicate certificates could be had for a fee and made him sit with us till he got down at his home town. But that incident left a very bad taste in my mouth. I had quit journeying by trains since that day.

 

So when returning to Bhubaneswar from my wife’s parents’, as one of her nephews persuaded us to make the journey by train I expressed my extreme reluctance and the cause of it. As that failed to cut much ice with him I expressed my helplessness. I said that decades of disuse had made me completely ignorant about the time tables of the trains, which were the ones running that day in that route, whether tickets would be available or not at such short notice etc. But he won’t take a no for answer. He said he would take care of all that. He would make us sit in the right train with proper tickets. We should just be prepared for a relaxed journey leaving all arrangements to him. Now I had no reason to demur. Little did I know that I was being inexorably and relentlessly drawn to meet my fate, may be to settle some karmic past account just as a ship getting sucked into a vortex.

 

So the next day early morning found us with our entire luggage at the ticket counter of the railway station at Balasore. The unmarried nephew had kept his words and taken charge of the situation. Within a couple of minutes we got tickets for the four of us and as we consulted the time table we found our train was to arrive at the station after an hour. So leisurely we walked to the platform carrying the luggage with us. I was at the front carrying two bags, followed by my two children, then my wife with two more bags and then the nephew bringing up the rear with the rest of the luggage.  As I reached the platform I was surprised to find that the Falaknama Express which should have departed the station almost forty five minutes before was still in the station. I got excited at the prospect of not having to wait for another hour at the platform. So I shouted to the nephew at the rear to hurry pointing him at the train and searched for a door to enter the train. We were at the rear end of the half a kilometer long train. Strangely as far as I could hurriedly scan I couldn’t find anyone in that train. It had a deserted look. All windows were closed. I reached a door, looked inside and finding no one inside I became confused and suspicious. Was that a train stranded there for repair of some mechanical defects?  What was the use of entering into a stranded or abandoned train? What was the matter? What should I do? I was getting nervous and restless. All these must have passed through my mind within a minute. In my confusion I ran ahead  to the door of the next compartment to see if anyone was inside who could tell if the train was o.k. or not. Just as I was getting near the door I heard the conductor’s whistle which signaled that the train was to leave in a moment. My mind went blank. I forgot for a moment that I was not alone; my entire family was in the platform following me. I forgot that for the last decade and a half I had not used the trains. Just in that moment I heard the creaking of the wheels as the train was straining to move. I jumped on to the door steps and entered the compartment. As I turned my back I saw the train move and simultaneously saw both the children at the steps. Hurriedly I put my bags down and reached for their hands and took both of them in. As far as I could see inside I found all the compartments were interlinked and so had a common corridor. A thought came as a consolation that the nephew must have known it and must have made my wife enter the train with the luggage from the nearest compartment at the rear. What a foolish man was I that I frantically ran ahead instead of entering the train from the nearest door! The train was on the move. Suddenly my wife appeared at the door running on the platform with two bags in hands pointed at my direction. My consolation thought evaporated into thin air. As usual she was wearing a sari which was not at all suitable for the kind of athletic job she was performing at that moment. I became jittery. I took the bags from her hand and called her in. She said nothing and disappeared from my view. I began to curse myself. How selfish of me to jump into the train first! I should have been the last.  What a disgraceful and irresponsible behavior that was; I have not behaved like a family man. Now, it served me right to cut a miserable, sorry figure.

 

The Phalaknama Express, one of the superfast trains of India lived to its name. It was catching speed by the seconds. I had wanted to shout to my wife not to run and unnecessarily risk her life; she had better wait there for the next train that we had originally intended to catch. But I couldn’t say anything. I stood there, a couple of feet inside, at the door of the compartment transfixed; not even daring to come to the door to see what frantic action was going on in the platform behind me. The train was gaining even more momentum by the seconds.  To put an end to my thought, again she appeared with two other bags. Immediately like a drowning man catching even a reed to stay afloat, I took those bags in. Next moment for the first time since the beginning of this crisis I saw the nephew running with two other bags. So all the while during this time he was running carrying with him the entire luggage of which my wife was relieving him two by twos! I felt pity for the boy and shame and guilt for me. I took those bags in too. All the bags and luggage were inside the train now.

 The time came for her to jump in but the train had gathered much speed by that time. I could see her running with all her might to catch the handle of the door. My mind was also running with her in great speed; one moment I was thinking of shouting at her to abandon the dangerous risk of getting into a running train, the second moment I was weighing the option of pulling the chain to stop the train and getting ready to pay a hefty fine for that, the next moment I was thinking of extending my hand to her and lifting her up into the train as a superman but I couldn’t do anything. I had been petrified with horror. A thought was crystallizing in me that If I interfered in any way, either by words or actions, then her plan of actions would be seriously disturbed and an accident would definitely happen.  So by remaining passive as a witness only I could let things take their own course and thus might enable them to make it possible to give birth to that one in ten chances of landing her safely inside the train and ending everything well. I had become literally a deaf and dumb spectator at his wit’s end at the turn of the event. All the while she was running with her small legs, with her small frame of 4’10”. As she got parallel to the door she reached for the handle and with a tremendous effort and by a surprising last moment show of feat she heaved herself in and landed smack on the floor of the compartment. Till that time I had not moved an inch from the place I stood lest by my slightest movement the fine balance of the universe got disturbed.

 

During the moments she was running on the platform beside the train to get a hold of the door handle the time had stopped for me. My mind after a hectic run among thoughts and at last finding the futility, the uselessness of them all had gone into a swoon as it were and I was emptied of that constant static noise of thoughts that ran always at the back of the mind. Suddenly all grumblings, complaining, fault findings, adversely comparing her with others that characterized the relationship between us from the beginning; all the disharmonious noises coming out of  an ill-matched chain and sprocket  like relationship evaporated into thin air at the prospect of great danger and imminent death or dismemberment. Once I had seen the dead and dismembered body of a woman lying on the railway track beside the platform at Bhubaneswar.

 

And then as if to put a full stop to my helplessness  she made the huge jump that could put many athletes to shame and all the moves she made somehow turned right and she reached safe and whole inside the compartment with a huge smile at me as if to announce, “Look, we have come through”. It was such a huge relief! It seemed to me the radiance of that smile spread to all corners of the universe and as I was at its nearest it filled me with such peace as I had experienced never before. It was like a drought of fresh air. It was like bathing in cool water after a very sweaty, grimy, hot day. It removed all my worries and anxieties, self accusations and self incrimination and remorse in a second and made me fresh and virgin. As all life was one and hence the cough of a polar bear affected the grains of sands of the Sahara desert, so also I thought that radiant smile of my wife must have affected the polar bears and some might have confusedly giggled for not knowing the reason of their inexplicable mirth. I smiled at her too and felt the lightness of our being. Thus that exchange of smile became a mile stone of my life flanked on both sides by long stretches of barren periods in which that kind of smile, uncontaminated by any other considerations than for the purpose for which a smile was genuinely meant, an expression of joy, wonder, a thankfulness for being alive together through the thick and thins of life, remained conspicuous by their absence. At that moment she seemed beyond comparisons and quite lovable too. I now understood the truth of the Buddhist statement, “All distinctions are falsely imagined.”

 

Again the time would come, in fact it has already come so many times, when the realization of the truth that all living beings are one would be lost, the vision of beauty and love in the other would be gone, that perception into the heart of things that united one to the other would vanish and again the two of us would feel lost under the illusion of separation and again we would burn in the fire of hatred, lust and greed. But that feeling of having emerged out of a potentially threatening, grim, death like situation remained for days. Since then many years have gone past. On many nights the scenes of my wife running on the platform beside the train have visited me in nightmarish dreams. Since then we both have fought hundreds of times on many issues and non issues which has convinced both of us that we were not made for each other. But on any day any time if I want to experience oneness with her, to be rid of the illusion of separation, our separate selves, our separate and incompatible identities then I have to just visualize in my mind the scene of her running beside the train, trying to catch hold of the door handle and make a huge effort to heave herself in and finally landing safely inside the compartment to greet me with a triumphant smile uncontaminated by any other considerations not becoming of a soul mate.Since then I have considered her as a gift to me from the Existence notwithstanding her follies and foibles, her demerits and deficits.I have my own vices too to match hers. Her being spared whole and unscathed from that deadly situation where slender was the thread between life and death was enough of a gift to me. She could have lost her grip and anything could have happened to her and I would been left to curse myself for my serious lapses on that day. But as the things stand she has not even once pointed at them till this day, she who never loses any opportunity to blame, criticize or accuse me. The fact is that one of the greatest errors of my life has escaped her ever vigilant critical notice and thereby doubling my gratitude to the Existence. After such knowledge how can acceptance, compassion and love be far behind?

So in a way the heading of this story is a misnomer. Everything actually went wrong till the last scene when by a sleight of hand which only the Existence is capable of It turned an almost tragic ending into a happy one. For that I can’t be grateful enough. Kindly take note of it that I am most hesitant to use words such as “happy”, “joy” and “love” to describe my state of mind ever, but that day For once I had no hesitation whatsoever to apply all such terms liberally in my context.

May all my readers experience such happiness, joy, love, peace and bliss in their lives always or at least some times.

If anyone wishes to share such experiences he/she is cordially invited to do so here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nisha was taking bath in the open on the small platform raised around the only well in the compound where both males and some old females drew water and bathed. Invariably all the young females took a couple of bucketful of water into a rickety bathroom beside the well and bathed there, except Nisha. Unaccountably Nisha frequently chose to take bath in the open and thereby causing considerable flutter in the hearts of all males present in the compound. I didn’t know why she was so nonchalant to the male eyes that scanned her lovely body inch by inch while she was engrossed deeply in bathing. I suppose she was practicing a kind of meditation in which one was supposed to make only the most deliberate and conscious movements in complete disregard of one’s immediate surroundings for she never wavered for a moment her attention away from her body. Who watched her and for how long and from which angle and corner she never bothered herself to know or verify.
Normally I didn’t watch her bathing. No no, please don’t think of me as morally or ethically so erect and tall that I won’t stoop to watch this kind of free and full public display. On the contrary I enjoyed to the brim such lovely sights and consciously sought for more. But Nisha’s case was something else. She was mine for the asking. I knew a few hours later she would present herself before me with that well-soaped and well-toned body for my/our enjoyment. But for a different kind of taste and for novelty’s sake one day I wanted to watch her bath in the open from the beginning to the end. I thought if all others could watch her in that state why couldn’t I? But how to watch her without being watched by others, that was the problem. For others to watch her could be understood and forgiven but how could my interest and behavior be accounted for when all suspected that I was having a rocking and tumultuous affair with her? The compound was full of people with a lot of prying eyes. I had to be extra careful. I decided to watch her secretly from a safe and secure position.

And I discovered such a safe and secret place right inside my room. I needn’t venture out to do the romantic job. Someone defined romanticism as ‘ amorous of the far’. Yes, I wanted to see Nisha’s body from afar, at least from the perspective of fifty yards, a sort of ringside view not the usual close ups. More importantly I wanted to see her as she appeared to others. Habit is a great deadener. One needs to see sometimes even things and people belonging to oneself from the perspectives of others in order to keep their novelty, freshness, charm, innocence, virginity, purity and appeal alive. I have seen how a book lying unopened for decades in my shelf suddenly acquired a life of its own and became extremely interesting when viewed and commented favorably by someone I valued. After all things and people, in short the whole Samsar itself is the creation of the mind only. It is all a mind game. Sorry, even watching beloved Nisha’s semi naked body was a mind game too. I was about to see not her as she was, not even what was there to be seen but what I chose to see or put in her. S.T. Coleridge’s famous line, “Oh Lady, you receive only what you give” was only etched in my mind in indelible ink.

So one day I stood on the chair placed on the table ( I hope readers will recollect this pair of stark, inseparable furniture that adorned my room which Nisha consecrated with her daily presence and which I described in some detail in my earlier story,” The woman who would dance only to the tune of her heart’s beats) and thus successfully bringing my eyes on a level with a small window that opened directly on the well in the compound. She pulled water from the well and poured on herself with a mug. Then she soaped her body very slowly and deliberately trying to reach all the crannies and crevices of her body as much as could be done politely standing in a public place. Well, to put it bluntly, leaving that small place about three inches in diameter around her genital she covered all other places in suds and bubbles of soap and water. She lathered her body very freely. Ten minutes of rubbing over the whole body with a terry towel followed by pouring of bucketful after bucketful of water on herself as she slowly moved her bare hands over the length and breadth of her body completed her bath. The most exciting part of her bath for which I had put so much effort and strain to witness turned into an anti-climax and passed most prosaically. I had mesmerizedly watched several times how Indian rural women took bath in river Ghats and how deftly and swiftly they changed saris with twinkling of an eye, as it were, as they finished their baths, all the while remaining in the full public view. Nobody could see any of those private parts men hungered to witness for which a woman’s body was the most beautiful and desirable thing for a human male.

With Nisha nothing of the sort happened. There was no deftness, no dexterity of hands. I was inclined to think of her as pitiable in the sari changing act. It was quite evident she had no one to teach her this common lesson. After her bath was over she wore the sari at one of its end and just piled the rest of it on her chest that covered barely her breasts, keeping her back completely exposed. I had never seen four or five yards of cloth being put to so little use, covering such a little space of one’s body. But it had one seemingly unintended effect. Nisha’s very fair, rounded shoulders and bare back aroused me. I had tried to witness the event with as much detachment as I could muster. But at what stage of my observation I had let off my guards I didn’t know. The result was that the rounded and curvaceous contour of her body, her braless undulating breasts shaking like two dancing butterflies in the air as she took measured steps to her house from the well holding a bucketful of water in each hand, made me long her so totally for an urgent engagement in sex. I confess I had a monstrous erection at hand that demanded attention and urgent satisfaction.

I waited in my room for her. In this kind of situations a belief held me together; that if I could wait patiently then things would turn in my favor, that everything could be mine, that everything right would happen only at the right moment, that the world might pour itself at my feet if I just could be endlessly patient. If, at the end of the day, nothing came to my hand then I would at least gain myself; for patience and trust in patience is my true nature. All impatience is the result of impurity. I couldn’t afford to be impatient. Patience was my opener by which I would at last succeed in opening the oyster that was the world. I told myself repeatedly to be more patient, more organized even when under the thrall of a highly amorous nature and at the moment trying to cope with a huge, recalcitrant erection. I told myself that Nisha would surely come. I was just to silently wait for a while longer before she threw herself at my feet to be explored even more fully and deeply.

That day unlike other days, she took a lot more time to come to my room, as if knowingly testing my patience. An hour later she emerged out of her house well dressed and well-coiffure. I thought she would come directly to my room as was her wont after her husband had left for office. Instead she went outside the gated compound. When I watched her from my rear window I could see some novelties with her. She had tucked in a small Turkish towel to her sari fold at the waist and as she walked very leisurely the dangling towel was swaying side to side with each of her steps giving her a bohemian, gypsy kind of look. And I liked that. That also stoked the fire raging in me. Just as anything could be fodder for a raging inferno like a jungle fire, so also it was with lust. No wonder, Buddhism considered lust as one of the three fires in which the suffering humanity got burnt. The other two being hatred and illusion. Illusion meant the illusion of separation; the inexorable and often unconscious desire to think of oneself as separate and superior to all others. I was in lust and I was burning. How I wished I had been a Buddha, morally and ethically pure, perfect and serene or a Confucius never leaving for a moment the Golden Mean. No more would I be burnt by the three fires.

She was walking to a laundry at a little distance. I could see her talk with the laundry man, possibly to get some of her laundry done urgently. Then she returned with the same leisured steps. When one had the whole life to spend as one liked like the millions of Indian urban middle class house wives freed from the burdensome duties and responsibilities of joint families, without the modern day distractions like T.Vs, mobiles or video games that are engineered or structured to fill up or eat up one’s time, it was wise to go about life leisurely, deliberately and consciously which was what Nisha was precisely doing. It had become her habit which has been rightly called as second nature. Sometimes I think that no matter how much consciously, deliberately or leisurely one performed one’s daily routine, monotony and boredom would set in one day sooner or later unless some varieties or novelties were also there in one’s life. Possibly Nisha started her affair with me when her life had fallen into one such monotonous rut. Why she chose me out of so many eligible males present in the compound would remain a mystery for me. Probably she had that uncanny ability to recognize in me the same kind of a victim of boredom and monotony. Yes, my life too had fallen into a repetitious pattern that lacked joy and creativity. That probably explained the bond that was formed and forged between us as we came closer. Sex was the glue that held us together but what attracted us to each other was probably like that of a drowning man’s wish for life-giving air, just to be out of the water. She was like fresh air for me as I suppose I was for her. That’s why we enjoyed each other’s company so much. Or we might have some residual karmic past to settle; in some past life we might have been a couple. I won’t ever know. But one thing I am certain that a man or a woman would surely sacrifice anything including the serenity, peace of a moral and ethical conjugal life unless that life also left some scope for creativity, enjoyment and zest for living. I think most of the extra-marital affairs are hence less to deal with sexual problems and more with spiritual ones.

So she was returning from the laundry. I could unmistakably see that typical womanly swing of hips which came so naturally to women, especially the Indian women. I guess the special kind of arrangement of pelvic bones with which the women are naturally endowed to facilitate the birth of their babies might have got something to account for that womanly shape and swings of hips and buttocks. To a horny man in the driving seat of a mountainous libido even that swaying gait acted like gasoline. It made me fire from all cylinders.
And then she entered my room and silently shut the door behind her. That she always did whenever she was unusually late in coming. I knew she must have surveyed the whole scenario outside and decided that now the coast was clear enough to sail our little amorous boat into the ocean of passion. To say that I fell on her like a bull who had smelt the oestrum of a cow on the heat or a male insect who had smelt the pheromone of an ovulating female would not be far off the mark. I confess there was nothing refined, human or civilized about my behavior on that day; it was rank and out bestiality on display. Where was that man with “exceptional restraint,” as Nisha once had spontaneously pronounced about me? That man was nowhere to be found. Inside the room there was only a beast. Without much ado I began to undress her and fondled her breasts and sucked her teats and lips for a long time. Inevitably with Nisha a time came after fifteen or twenty minutes of lips and nipples sucking when she would signal me to stop. That meant she was successfully brought to the same stratospheric libidinal orbit in which I had been orbiting for a long while. That also meant time had come to take our lovemaking to a deeper level or to the next higher level. We couldn’t afford to tarry any longer at a particular stage of the lovemaking act without attracting monotony to ourselves. So her signal was to move on with nature. We were nature’s children. In the lovemaking act we were relentlessly prodded and goaded to move on till the goal of orgasm was reached. We were also given numerous clues to synchronize our acts and anticipating each other’s moves, responses and adjusting oneself accordingly were the high points in the art of lovemaking.

If I wanted a tell tale physiological sign that would confirm me her readiness to mate, her state of heightened sexual arousal, I had just to lift her sari and inspect her vaginal region which unmistakably showed a small rivulet in spate. It is her seminal fluid gone wild and berserk, it usually breached all dams and jumped both shores. So without making any more delays and to put an end to my pulsating libido, I mounted her on the bed. She was looking happy; a joyful smile was evident on her face. As I shoved in my erect penis and made just five or six deep thrusts, something stung me nastily from inside her vagina.
I blurted out an “Ahh” in pain and said, “Nisha, your cunt stings!”
As I immediately pulled out my penis in pain what I saw I couldn’t at first believe. Deep gash had been made on the foreskin and red blood was spurting out. The pain was sharp and throbbing. Seeing this Nisha too sat upon the bed and remarked that it had happened once with her husband too.
I asked, “What for this sting is? Who is stinging?”
Nisha laughed and replied that no one was there to sting. It was her copper T, an IUD, which had somehow come down so low from its usual position that it had scarred my thing on contact.
I asked, “What is the remedy?”
She replied,”Nothing. Just push the thing a little deeper with your finger. All will be O.K. But you may have to take a day or two of rest from sex in order to heal the wound and not to rupture the wound again.”
I said, “I am not going to take rest even for a day. A few minutes rest at the most and then whether the bleeding stops or not I will resume the act from where I had left.
As we both watched red blood spurting by, I said,”Nisha, so much blood is going waste and I am also experiencing a throbbing pain. Couldn’t you take the thing in your mouth and suck the blood dry? I would also feel very comfortable and relieved in your warm and moist mouth.”
I didn’t think she would comply. But surprisingly and most touchingly she did exactly that. Without wasting even a second she brought her mouth to my loin and very tenderly and lovingly took my thing into her mouth and sucked it exactly in the fashion I sucked her lips and teats regularly and religiously for a long long while in which the world outside just ceased to exist. Her act of sucking my penis was even more commendable. While I sucked her clean, freshly bathed breasts, she sucked my penis which was bleeding and was liberally laced with vaginal fluids at that time. She didn’t even wipe it clean before inserting it into her mouth. She had no such squeamishness or undue concern for hygiene. In that very touching gesture I felt completely one with her.

My view of the world, especially the world between our loins, surprisingly coincided with her. My view was that our mouth contained more germs, bacteria and other microorganisms than either our anus or the sexual organs. So whenever I kissed or sucked Nisha’s body I did it with a kind of abandonment which might seem shocking to some or be considered as unclean or unhygienic to some others. But surprisingly Nisha had no such qualms and she seemed almost a cloned copy of mine as far as the acceptance of each other’s body was concerned. The only visible difference between us was that Nisha did all such acts while keeping her eyes shut and I did keeping my eyes wide open. I didn’t want to lose even a second of this kind of intense act by failing to register it in my consciousness. It could be said Nisha felt me more in her shut-eye position while I ‘saw’ her more in my wide-eyed open position. I can’t say who was the gainer or who was the loser. All I can say was that while she was sucking my bleeding and slimy penis in her shut-eye position I felt a very strong surge of tender emotions welling up in me for her. I stroked her hairs; I stroked her face and for umpteenth time kissed her face bending awkwardly from my sitting position on the bed. Again I felt that oneness with her and through her with the whole universe; the same oneness, devoid of all sense of separation from the other, which is so desirable by all mystics, seers and by many lay men and women of all religions. Who has not experienced the burning pain of separation at sometime or other in life, who has not been deluded by the illusion of separation and hasn’t longed for peace, harmony by becoming whole again by a vision of our essential oneness? Buddha said, “All life is one”. Through such acts of kindness and closeness and deep feeling and concern for others Oneness could also be realized. We are just to see the other through the uncontaminated and unselfish eyes where we didn’t have any personal axes to grind.

Nisha came to my life towards the fag end of a decade old reign of depression. I was weak, pessimistic and despondent after a decade of straining with all my might to break free from the vice like grip of the depression. What kept me alive during that period were some books and I fought on to keep the monster at bay without ever taking the help of drugs of any kind. During that period when I was hopelessly plodding my weary way, a line from Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” came to my mind often. “I can’t go on; I must go on.” I must have uttered that line hundreds of times to myself especially during those days when the vice like grip was most complete and total. To that scenario of my life Nisha entered like a breath of fresh air. I was already enjoying periods of peace and calmness but Nisha gave that human touch, especially the womanly touch which I so badly needed. As for her she too went through similar angst almost for an equal period for different reasons but nevertheless as authentic as mine. So in a sense we complemented, supported and boosted each other. That explained while I repeatedly told her that she had chosen a bad, lousy lover for herself she stuck to her view that I was almost perfect for her. She corrected me by saying that she had not chosen me; I had been returned to her after a decade. When I still insisted that she had made a poor choice; to my unbelieving ears she declared that if I needed proof of my worthiness, future would only give ample evidence of them. To someone who had just managed to emerge out of a pall of gloom and darkness this was light and life. She reposed full faith and confidence in me at a time when I didn’t have any on me. That was when I was thirty. Now I am nearing sixty. Only two years from hence I will be retired from Govt. service. I don’t think her prophecy has been fulfilled in any way. I don’t think I have a future. Just coping with the demands of the present moments and situations has been a full time job for me. I hope she hadn’t meant that seriously. I have also not taken it seriously. That way lies less frustration and disillusionment.

I don’t know if I deserved her love, confidence and trust in the first place. All I can say is that I am grateful for her reposing so much confidence in me, her bestowal of so much love on me. My association with her lasted exactly two hundred days. Then the Existence which had so miraculously and unaccountably brought us together also devised a game of separation to make us drift apart till we were out of each other’s lives. But so long we were together I experienced repeatedly those moments of Oneness, togetherness, that merging of the personal and private self in the universal, impersonal Self where we existed not for attainment of any personal and selfish ambitions and achievements but for consciously being our true self which is being kind, compassionate and good towards all living beings. Eastern mysticism which is so much distrustful of sensuality and sensuous pleasure utterly lacks the experiential confirmation. Even animals, birds and insects know better and hence discard the nonsexual way of living altogether. It is only the megalomaniac human ego which wants to attain the elevated status of imaginary gods where sexlessness or celibacy is associated or synonymous with godliness or divineness. I know what celibate priests and God men have been doing throughout the world and throughout the ages. I have no taste for such divine life. The sacrifice is so enormous; the reward is so puny, trite and mostly consisted of rehash of old, secondhand opinions and experiences. Of course, there have been exceptions; a Buddha, a Ramana, a Shankaracharya, a Ramakrishna or a Vivekananda. They were great not because of their celibacy but in spite of it.

Nisha was not only an excellent mate of mine but a good wife to her husband too. It fell to her lot that she had to choose to live for some time the kind of life she lived. She had to do a lot of balancing act during that time under the stress of which many lesser mortals would have caved. She never talked or encouraged me to talk against her husband. In her words,” I cannot tolerate my husband belittling my lover nor can I tolerate my lover belittling my husband.” Circumstances so conspired with her that she was forced to lead a life where her husband and her lover were not the same person. But she tried to make the best out of her situation. She never intentionally hurt anyone. She was even extremely unwilling to hurt a mosquito sucking her blood. She must have suffered some poisoned barbs from her husband for her too close for comfort kind of association with me. But she never shot back nor gave any opportunity for him to feel slighted. She never compared one with the other. Each one was equally important for her, so she never took any step that would jeopardize the fine balance of peace and harmony in her home. She kept her relationship with me a secret in her heart, tucked away safely from all prying eyes with all her customary diligence and meticulousness. Discussing about it with anyone else, including her husband was like dragging a very precious, personal and private thing to the marketplace for public display and thereby doing a sacrilege on it. She would never do it. I too never discussed our love with anyone else.

It is only after more than a quarter of a century after our affair was over and after protecting the identities of all main characters by changing their names I am writing about this love story. A few lines before I mentioned that she never compared me with her husband or anybody else. But the same cannot be said about me. For instance, once I asked her, “Please tell me about the love life between you and your husband”.
She replied, “It would be better for you if you don’t press me for an answer because I know you will be hurt and what you will hear may not be to your liking.”
I replied,”Nisha, your reply may hurt me; nonetheless I should like to hear it.”
She said, “Take today itself for an example. Within the last 18 hours we have had sex three times.”
I asked, “Please tell me exactly when you had those three sessions?”
She said, “The first time happened in the dawn just after I came back from the garden after plucking some flowers for the Puja. When I had gone out he was asleep. But as I came in he was awake and finding the children still asleep expressed his desire for sex which I complied as always. By the way, I have never refused him sex. The next time it was in the afternoon after we had taken our lunch. You know today is his holiday and unlike the other days I am available to him throughout the day. The third time it was in the evening when the boys were still out playing crickets. So this is my answer. Are you happy hearing it? I know you can’t be because you love me so much. That’s why I was so reluctant to reply.”
Strangely, though I had thought of me as incapable of being shocked by whatever might be her reply, yet frankly I admitted that I was shocked and had a feeling as if I had eaten a bundle of grass. Such is the power of illusion. Almost everyone is under the illusion that his brain power is the best; and a corollary to that is his sexual prowess is also the best under the sun. Nisha’s candid reply just decimated that illusion for some time. I said sometime because fragments of the illusion would again coalesce and come together and again enshroud the human mind. Myths, beliefs and illusions are hard to discard or obliterate.
I replied, “Yes, I am feeling a bit uneasy. But the question is not how I feel at hearing a fact. The question for me is to know the facts, however pleasant or unpleasant they may be. So just tell me whatever the truth is. I know I am in love with a married woman who must be having sex with her husband. I ought to have been prepared to hear such truths.”
Days passed by. My curiosity, as usual, in matters of sex knew no bounds. One day I asked her the question which had been lurking at the back of mind always.
I asked her,”Nisha, please tell me how do I stand in comparison to your husband in the matter of sex. Please give me a frank, true and as far as possible emotionally detached or uninvolved answer with no concern whatever to my personal reactions, from all angles and sides of the issue including an assessment of my instrument vis-à-vis your husband’s.”
She replied, “What you will hear may not please you because you might be unfavorably compared. It is better if you don’t press me for an answer.”
I said, “You know I have always wanted to know the truth in all matters. It doesn’t matter if I cut a sorry figure in comparison with your husband. I know a decade of depression has severely affected my health. I also know your husband has an athletic body and he is far more handsome than me. So I won’t feel slighted however you may describe me or my instrument.”

I don’t think the world would have been as wise and well-informed had not someone took the courage in his hands and asked the difficult question that lurked in many peoples’ mind but none had dared to ask. I am led to think so because what came as a reply to my difficult question was like so many gems cascading from Nisha’s lips. I think mankind would be richer by taking heed to it. I certainly have.

What she replied took my breath away. But after the initial shock I recovered ground surprisingly fast in her estimate because after all her entire statement and the vivid descriptions in it were not against me. Towards the later part of her almost clinical description of our private parts I scored some brownie points whereas I had prepared myself for thorough drubbings.
She said, “So far as size is concerned my husband has a bigger penis than you. Even in the completely erect state you show some infirmity unlike my husband’s which is almost like a ramrod. But what you lack in size and firmness you make up, I should say more than make up, by your prolonged impassioned kisses, strokes and especially sucking of my lips and breasts. He doesn’t like all these elaborate foreplays. He doesn’t have the necessary patience. It seems he doesn’t get much pleasure out of kissing and sucking. For you foreplay is as much important as the sex act itself. Coincidentally that also pleases me more. I reach orgasm with both of you. But to speak honestly, I reach orgasm more number of times with you than him. But I must warn you here against thinking that I come to you for orgasms. I come because I love you and because you make me feel important, valuable and precious. So this is my answer. Did you like it?”
I said, “I did more than just like it. You gave me very valuable insights into the workings of a woman’s mind, what she likes and what she would love to be done with her to give her the maximum pleasure out of the sex act. By sharing this information you have made me a better human being, a better lover because I consider the sex act as a way of giving one’s partner and oneself as much happiness as possible with all considerations for the other in the common pursuit of mutual love and oneness.”

I have digressed a little. Even digressions and detours one takes in the pursuit of love, peace, happiness and oneness are lovely. I was stung viciously in my penis from inside Nisha’s cunt and so had to take a halt in the middle of the sex act to stem the blood flow and recuperate from the pain, both simultaneously getting done by her glad insertion of the full penis into her mouth. With her moist and warm mouth around my penis I felt much better. The libido had returned with renewed vigor for the mouth treatment was novel and any novelty in the bed was a great aphrodisiac. All misgivings regarding not being able to perform or having to take a day or two of rest had disappeared. I could feel my penis hardening again insider Nisha’s mouth and as if it were straining at the lease to go and perforate and snugly fit, where it should, inside her cunt. I could hear it sing,” I think I can; I think I can”. It couldn’t be restrained any more. Exactly five minutes had past after she put it into her mouth.

So I withdrew my penis from her mouth and without seeing whether the bleeding had stopped or not I let it jab into her equally wet and moist cunt. Believe me or not, even after this bloody affair, my throbbing penis immediately swung into action and very swiftly engorged itself with blood and transformed itself into the most monstrous erection I have ever had. Sex with that kind of erection and with a mate like Nisha was a thing for which many Presidents including the President of US of A would envy.
To keep the danger element alive and to make the sex act resemble the game of Roulette I had not pushed the IUD deeper with fingers. The danger of the IUD gashing the glans of my penis was so real. But I was willing to take the risk as that was a welcome novelty. Moreover, I was experiencing the highs of a heightened sexual excitement that stifled or muffled pain, so I couldn’t be risk averse.
I was initially a little afraid of the sting from the IUD, but with each deep and forceful thrust I regained confidence. In order to give me even more courage and boost my morale, after a few deep thrusts I began to utter the words,” Oh Cunt, where is thy sting?”
Nisha giggled at that turn of the words and phrases. A few more deep thrusts and again I would say,”Oh Cunt, where is thy sting?” I continued going deeper and deeper as if I was possessed, as if I was chasing after a demon. With that kind of hard erection I couldn’t afford to just skim the surface. To my serious, determined face Nisha gave the complete contrast. She was all the while giggling, laughing and stroking my back, face and neck. To me she looked as if she was the most beautiful, the most perfect woman on the Earth. Not a trace of the awkwardness at the change of sari on the platform of the well could be associated with her; as if that was some other person. Now she was only at her best and strangely I too, notwithstanding the danger from the murderous IUD, was at my best. Things couldn’t have been better or more perfect. The world, it seemed, had no better sight to show than a contented pair of lovers like Nisha and me. All our moves were so appropriate and synchronized that not only we felt oneness in our minds and hearts but in our loins too. As always, as we reached orgasm almost simultaneously, Nisha’s was a muted affair but mine was most mind shattering and noisy, to speak the least. Nisha always deliberately muffled her intensity in orgasming as she said she got a migraine triggered simultaneously with intense ones.

Two days later I met the friend who was instrumental in finding me that house. He called me from the back and as he drew level he informed me that he had been to my housing colony. I asked why he didn’t drop in. As he replied I was taken aback. What a lousy person had I been! In the midst of the bloody game of love we had exceeded time limit, made noises, giggled noisily and for once had thrown all cautions to the wind. We couldn’t afford to be so careless again. Nor the Existence might be so sparing always.But sometimes I didn’t want to care. Didn’t the Patriarch of Zen Buddhism say,”From the beginning not a thing is”? I believe we are but aspects of the universal Mind only which always knew. So why be unnecessarily worried and anxious? We could relax and rest in that Mind peacefully.