Sunday, 20 April 2014


The repelling odor of ammonia dispersed evenly into the thick and humid air. Converging upon the public toilet were three lanes, one from the vegetable market, another from the bus stand and the third from the oblivious ardor of the 'Prostitute Street'. When Hamid zipped his pants and came out of the toilet he could have gone through any of the three lanes. But the choice to embark onto the 'Prostitute Street' was his ritual, a ritual he barely compromised on.

On that day, visibly furious over an argument with his wife over some petty household mischief, he would have performed well on bed, he even would have produced the fury which his marital relationship lacked. 'I f**k her by habit', Hamid once divulged to his friend at the helm of alcohol. He said it with a derisive laugh which fit ever so naturally on his face. But today running low on money but certainly at the pinnacle of passion, Hamid walked the streets and eyed every whore with genuine yearning and intense adoration!

Every second he spend in the street, he felt a suffocating heaviness in the air, and found his stomach churn and imagined butterflies inside his stomach making love like mad dogs. He couldn't watch another woman and almost ran back to the public toilet where all lanes converged. After a brief repression of the overwhelming desire, he came out of the toilet and watched the clouds over flow with their fluids. He felt a sudden empathy with them, and stood for a while facing the skies. Droplets hit his face and disappeared into the air as a thousand sparkling gems, created in genuine amor, for the Earthen land!

After his initial curiosity ebbed away, he took the lane that curved on like a serpent to the bus stand.

Perhaps due to the expansive nature of the world, or mostly because of flocking population (towards the mirage called city), small towns like this seemed increasingly empty. Apparently all the pangs of being a love-starved monster would have made Hamid even more distraught that night which made him see the bus stand as a graveyard. A graveyard which seemed to still have the air of a burial, but one in which all the friends and relatives of the demised have gone away. Hamid searched for the bus which would lead him home, but found none. The only bus waiting in the yard was towards Kochi. He was always intrigued at Kochi's night life. He knew all large cities woke up at night. For once he thought of climbing onto the threshold of abundant dreams, onto the queen of Arabian sea, but obviously thought otherwise when he checked his pocket.

He knew the only practical choice was the forlorn habitual love with his wife, which he knew would be strenuous considering the time (nearly midnight) and also the bitter argument in the morning. Yet Hamid knew all wives are slaves to her husband, a husband could manhandle his wife in whatever ways he please. A friend of Hamid once commented during a bachelor party, 'Wives are made for two reasons. One - to satisfy passion. Two - to wash our underwears!' Hamid smiled, he knew it was true.

Just when he was about to take the two kilometer walk home, the bus to Kochi came alive. It opened its eyes and shone light. The engine, like an angry grizzly bear, yearned for the injection of gas and murmured on in visible distaste. The driver sensing the rage of the untamed beast kicked the pedal, as if it were his own wife, and moved the large beast, took a turn and disappeared around the corner. Hamid could still hear the growl of the vehicle when he saw her running towards him.

Hamid couldn't discern reality and imagination for a fraction of a second. He knew that his mind would play tricks on him because it needed comfort. And before him the image of her, barely 23, made his heart beat a tad faster. His breaths became heavy. He knew she was running to catch the bus. He knew she wouldn't catch it. He calculated his moves. He watched the surroundings. The last family who came to bid their kins farewell have already entered their cars. He will be alone with her, in the middle of a sultry old stand, with no chances of another bus to anywhere till sunrise.

'Has the bus to Kochi gone?',she asked catching her breath.

Hamid took a while and swallowed a mouthful of air to check whether it still had the piercing smell of garlic which his wife so detested.

The moment he was sure that the smell have faded away, he replied,'Yes mam. You just missed it!'

She seemed petrified for a moment, unable to gather what she had just heard. Her face turned white, her hands shivered in angst, and began sweating profusely which turned her beautiful all the more!

'When would be the next bus?', she asked with no tinge of hope.

'I am sorry, but that was your last bus'. Hamid gave a faint smile which was immediately captured by the woman. She felt afraid for the first time.

'You would get the first bus tomorrow morning at 5. Till then why don't you rent a room at a hotel. I'd show you one', Hamid felt that he almost convinced her.

'I need to reach Kochi by 4 am', replied the woman.

Kochi and its night life, Hamid thought. Probably she was some high classed whore who had an important contract, or maybe just a silly youth who didn't know the dilemmas of night life in a village. Either way she seemed a perfect target for Hamid. Butterflies were forcing love inside his stomach. All his contained passion was about to break its shackles when she said,

'My mother is sick. She would be operated tomorrow at 4. I desperately need to reach in time.'

For a moment Hamid paused. Mother. How beautiful a word! Hamid lost his mother when he was 4. His father would rape her every single day in front of him and she wouldn't raise her voice. Maybe she died because of it. In India, marital rapes are as common as sunsets. Hamid would think his bizarre love-making with his wife was no different, but there was a certain thrill to it which would lure him more and more into forced love.

But tonight, the way she said the word mother drove Hamid into a frenzy. The butterflies suddenly dropped dead and turned into ashes. He knew the pains of being separated from maternal love. And unimaginably, even to himself, he sympathized with the woman. He asked him her name.

'Akshara', she said.

'Don't worry Akshara. Let me call a friend who has a cab. He could help you', Hamid's words seemed genuine to Akshara. She sighed in relief. But the relief was soon capsized when Hamid made the call.

'Come over to the stand bastard, you'll get a trip' and just like that he disconnected the call.

In a matter of minutes a cab arrived in the bus stand. An aged driver, who looked devoid of sleep, shouted all sorts of blasphemies at Hamid. Hamid laughed.

'Calm down Dada. Drop her off at Kochi. She would pay you well'

'I don't need the money, I need sleep, you rascal!', he shouted even more.

'He is a bit eccentric, but you can trust him as long as you have money!', Hamid calmed Akshara who seemed tensed in the midst.

'Who is she?', the driver quizzed Hamid.

'A sister', Hamid said with a smile.

'Quite a pathetic brother you have memsab', Akshara tried to hide a smile which eventually came out.

After getting into the car Akshara could see both the men chatting outside. She saw the driver handing five 100 rupee notes to Hamid, and both laughing wildly. The innate fear rose again, and would be curbed only after she reached Kochi one hour later. The driver asked for a fare of 1000 rupees, claiming she not only disrupted his sleep but also made him hear the vilest sh*t he could think of thanks to her brother! She would have given him a 10,000 if he would have asked it. She rushed into the hospital. Her mother awaited her with tired eyes.

Somewhere far away, sometime before, Hamid would reach the toilet where all lanes converged. He took the lane towards the 'Prostitute Street'. Clouds were building up once again in the skies. He thought of Akshara, Dada would drop her off safely. Sister. How beautiful a word! And for a moment he pictured another Hamid in the story. A love starved Hamid. How the story of Akshara would have changed! He looked inside his pocket - 500 rupees. He didn't borrow it from Dada, he asked to add that to the fare.

500 rupees was price for the chastity of Akshara, it would now be fee for the immorality of a prostitute!


  1. Amazing!! You write so well i am falling short of words to describe just how beautiful this is
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