My Mother, my Father, and Ibymintabal3239©
I climbed the steep stairs common to houses in Pudupet, an ancient part of Madras city, and pressed the door bell button. As expected Daya opened the door, but she was dressed ready to go and that was unusual.
"Why Daya, is your mother unwell?" I asked. Daya was the nurse-aid attending on mother. She was no clock watcher. Her mother being unwell was the only reason why she would want to go as soon as her duty was over.
"Yes Viniamma (my name is Vinita) she has the breathing problem again."
"Then push off," I said.
"Not yet, 17 minutes more for my time to be over," she said.
"Incorrect, it is 16 minutes and 34 seconds," I said and laughed and persuaded her to leave before time.
"Are you back Vini?" It was mother's voice from her room at the end of the hall.
"Please tell Daya to leave. Her mother is unwell."
"I am doing just that Amma," I said. I washed, changed and freshened myself before entering mother's room. Daya as usual had propped her up on the bed. She had done her hair in a tight pigtail. Mother's face shone from polishing and powdering.
"You look tired today," she said.
"You shouldn't be saying the same thing every day Ma. A nine-to-five clerk in a clothes store has no business to look fresh at the end of the day."
"Have your coffee and tiffin first. I want to have a long talk with you." Daya had placed coffee and bajji on the table. I ate and came back to mother.
"How was the bajji?" she asked.
"Good," I said. Bajji is thin slices of raw banana, or egg plant or potato dipped in lintel flour paste (basen) and deep fried. Today it was with potato inside that I like. "And what is it that you want to talk about."
"About you. You completed 18 two months ago." She sounded as if she rued that fact.
"But Ma I could not prevent that happening," I said and laughed.
'The time has come for me to say certain things about your father and me."
"You said you want to talk about 18 year old me and now you say it is about Appa and you."
"About our sex life," she said.
"Are you all right Amma?" I said.
"I am perfectly sane," she said with a smile of smug assurance.
"But you are blabbering; excuse me for saying so."
"I am not. Listen. Are you ready to listen?"
"Yes Ma start."
"Your father and I had a wonderful sex life that ended when I developed this sickness," she said.
I was 8 years old when it happened, but I have a clear recollection of the start and progress of her illness. She woke up one morning with back ache that spread to her joints one after another till within six months she was bedridden with a hunched back and all joints stiff in various stages of deformity. She needs an attendant at all hours. My father, Daya and I take turns to look after her. I remember her as an active person always bustling about, outgoing and friendly. Her spirit remains unbroken in spite of her illness. The disease was now burnt out. She has no pain.
"Ma, I am not sure you are all right,"
"Be patient Vini. We had sex every day."
"Do I need to know Amma?"
"Please listen without interrupting me. Every day Vini. Of course we had to miss during occasional illnesses and during two days of my periods. Two days mind you and that was the limit of our endurance. On the third day we would have it anyway periods or not and let me tell you that the third day when the periods are not quite over are the days when my erogenous zones were at their sensitive best."
"Amma, should you go on. It is so unlike you to talk like this."
"Well, till today you were not old enough. Listen. Then it suddenly ended. First the joint pains and then my hips got fixed in such a position that I could not spread my thighs to receive your father into me."
"I could touch him, and then the elbows started stiffening and then the joints of the fingers. I remember one day I was caressing his penis. He made it stiff and I ran my hand over it with difficulty. 'This may be the last time I can be doing this,' I told him. "It was the last time." She was weeping. I wiped her tears.
"Tell me all Amma if that will make you feel better. I will listen with outmost eagerness." Soon she was herself again.
"It is when I think of your father that I feel my disabilities most deeply. He was always eager for sex. By always I mean at all times day and night. In his opinion, and I agree with him totally, sex as the last thing before turning off to sleep is the worst time for an activity that demands respect and effort. Funny isn't that at the end of a tiring day one must do something that demands the greatest physical and mental energy." Mother paused. "Vini you must ask me questions. I must know that you are listening. Don't grin like that; say something."
"I have no question to ask."
"You have. The obvious one."
"All right, here goes. What is the best time for sex Amma," I said and burst out laughing.
"Anytime other than just before retiring for the night." Mother spoke seriously. This was not a topic for levity.
"First thing in the morning?"
"I am glad you asked that. Your father in the days when I was active liked to have his bed coffee. I tried to tell him that he should brush his teeth before taking coffee but he was reluctant to give up the habit that his mother had accustomed him to. When I found value in it I also was eager to serve him his bed coffee."
"What value can one find in that habit?" I asked. Mother was giggling like a teenager.
"I took the coffee in a silver tumbler. Do you know the significance of a silver tumbler? The bride brings milk to her husband before nuptials in a silver tumbler. I will be without a bra or blouse just with the pallav thrown over the shoulder. He will accept the tumbler with the right hand and push the pallav off the shoulder with the other. As he was sipping he would fondle me. He wanted his coffee very hot. He would take a sip and then pull me towards him and then take a nipple between his warmed lips. The warm lips holding my nipple was a delectable sensation. And and...I feel shy to tell this."
"But I must."
"There is no compulsion Amma."
"No there is. You know he will then pull me towards him and lift up the sari and I will go closer to him and I will spread my thighs and he will touch my clitoris with the tip of his tongue."
"Amma this is too much."
"The warm tickle on the clitoris with the tip of his pointed tongue gave an indescribable sensation. I do not think that books describe the warm kisses you father and I practised. Quite possibly they have not thought of what we found out by chance. I wish you would write about it"
"Amma you have gone completely out of hand."
"At that point sometimes he will get an urge to do more. He will pull me to the bed and we would have sex with him on top. At times I will get the urge and then I will climb up the bed, he will lie down flat facing up and I will lower myself into him."
"I have got the idea Amma. I don't think I want to hear in detail the different techniques you two used to adopt for every hour of the day." But the momentum was carrying Amma forwards.
"He always took a tumbler of hot milk half an hour after supper."
"Repeat evening show! Piping hot milk no doubt served by topless waitress?"
"You go the point though I do not find anything in it to laugh about."
"No follow up this time."
"On the sofa?"
"But why are you flooding me with all this information Amma. I am sure your mother did not tell you the intimate details of her sex life."
"I have a reason. Your father is without sex for 10 years. That must be a terrible strain on one as avid as he was for it."
"How do you know? He might be having some woman or the other. I believe many men do so."
"I know he is not. I have talked to him and I have pleaded with him to have some outlet for his urges. I have suggested that he can have a mistress or even marry again. So many men have two wives. He says he has no inclination to have sex with unknown women."
"Yes, that would be good. She is single and 29 years old. I know she would be willing. I have talked to him about her too. He says that once that happens the relationship between Daya and me will change and she will not be the best nurse-aid any more."
"Father has a point there."
"He likes her very much but not in this way. He told me that if something happens to her mother we should take her in as one of our family."
"The same thought has occurred to me too," I said. "With no close relatives she would become quite helpless without her mother." Amma became silent. Her body language plainly said that she more to say but was finding it difficult to do so.
"Amma, it appears as if you have something so startling to say that even you are hesitating. Come on, out with it as long as it is not more details of your sex life."
"Well, it is this. Do you masturbate?"
"What a question. Of course I do."
"What or rather whom do you think of while doing that?"
"Why do you want to know that? The one thing that a woman can call her own even in the most repressive cultures is her fantasies."
"Is father the object?" I must confess that the question rattled me. I did not know what to say. "My father was in my time," continued Amma, "and for every woman I believe the father is the first fantasy figure."
"It is true in my case too, "I said hesitantly.
"Speak boldly. There is not anything a daughter should be ashamed of. If you are like what I was before my marriage you would be doing so guiltily trying desperately to think of something else. When I was close to the climax I could never prevent thoughts of father forcing itself upon my consciousness. It must be the same with you too." She looked at me challengingly and I had to turn away in shame.
"This is not something you should be ashamed of. Think of him without reserve from start to finish. In our culture daughters don't hug their fathers, and sisters their brothers. In Western society it is not so. I like their way. Ours is against nature. Physical contact is how animals show affection and we are animals too."
"So you want me to hug father?"
"That is precisely what I am saying. Not just hugging. Hand holding, leaning against him while say watching TV and things like that. Poor man he would love to have some physical contact with you. You have do take my place."
"What do you mean by 'take my place?'. Where do we draw the line?
"That you two will have to decide. Why that smile."
"If as soon as father comes in if I were to run to him and hug him he would certainly faint in surprise."
"You must do it step by step. When did you last go with him to a movie?
"A year and a half ago or may be two years."
"Why not on Saturday, holiday for both of you, but only if Daya's mother is recovered. No, not the matinee show; the 6.30 show. Daya can take her day off and come and stay with me in the evening till you return. We used to go to movies quite often, always the 6.30 show.
"Why that particular show."
"We like total darkness. Your father and I will be discreetly cuddling all the time."
"Don't tell me you behaved like the young people we see in the back rows in movies."
"Very discreetly. No one would know that we were anything but a very prim and staid couple."
"So you think." Mother was not listening. She was in a rewind mode; she was giggling
The theatre my father and I visited was one of the new mall cum theatre complexes that have sprung all over Madras. We had a back row on sofa like double seats. The theatre was not crowded; the movie was nearing the end of a long and successful run. People talk sneeringly of Indian masala movies but I like them. There is something in it for everyone. If you don't like the story line you can enjoy the songs mostly pictured in scenic locations in Europe or Australia. Romance will be there in plenty and lots of melodrama too and then those dances. Fights are important and the experts who direct fights are as much choreographers as those who direct dances. The audience in India is not blood thirsty. Even after the most horrible pulping the patrons will note with relief that nothing more than bruises and black eyes result from these encounters. Finally the ending it has to be a happy one. It was one such movie that father and I settled to watch.
`I had armed myself with a large packet of salted peanuts and cashew. The titles were on when I caught hold of father's right hand and placed a fistful of nuts on it. I rested his hand on my hand and placed my hand on my lap. There was no arm rest separating our seats. We picked up the nuts from this 'container' one at a time and munched. My hand was not idle. I was kneading his hand. It was a simple contact and my movements were innocent enough but to me it was intensely erotic. Appa likes cashew. I searched for cashew and when I got one I took it to his mouth and placed it between his lips. He became playful. Mother must have talked to him too, many times; I am sure of that. Anyway I took his little pranks as encouragement to go ahead. The first few he accepted tamely; then he flicked off a few with his tongue, and then he caught my fingers with the nut into his mouth and sucked at my fingers before releasing them. Was he sucking or was he kissing? Clearly he was finding the exercise erotic. Soon, too soon, the packet was empty, but I held on to his hand and played with it. I was aware that I not doing so with a daughter's innocence. I could feel moisture in my vulva.
On the screen a torrid love scene was getting closer to the climax. I was feeling the heat too. I entwined my father's fingers and with his forearm twisted around mine I brought his hand to my cheek. I have never been this cosy with father. I have no doubt that Amma's talk had melted away my inhibitions. My father yielded placidly. Thus encouraged I took his hand to my cheek and pressed the back of it firmly to my cheek. Such was my mood that the hairs on the back of his hand rubbing on my cheek were thrillingly sensuous. Meanwhile the lovers on the screen were in a tight embrace. I do not know how it happened but his hand was on my lips. Did I kiss? I might have but I do not know for I was in a daze. I darted a glace at Appa. His eyes were on the screen. He seemed unaware of what I was doing. But was he? The lights came on at intermission. I turned to father and smiled. He smiled back and tweaked my cheek.
The second half was full of fights. Women like fight scenes. This is contrary to expectations. Unlike men though the techniques the hero and his men employ are not what we look of. We women like to see villains defeated thoroughly and painfully. This movie did it well. I was doing well too. I slid close to father, so close that from knee to shoulder we were in firm contact. He put his arm behind my back and held my arm at the elbow. My breast that was close to his hand was tingling. A lover would have boldly gone for it, but a father cannot. Father cannot and will not force himself upon his daughter. I realised that I will have to take the imitative at every point. I had to act and act boldly.
I had to carry on the plan I had in mind with great care. I pressed father's arm against the back of the sofa to prevent him from removing it altogether. As if wanting to rearrange my pallav (sari wearers do it all the time) I removed his hand from my elbow. I now boldly took his hand and placed it firmly on my waist. His hand was now just three or four inches from cupping my breast. For all that it could be miles away unless I take decisive steps. I waited for something exciting to happen. Soon it did. The villain who escaped in an earlier fight was now back and waiting to ambush the heroine at the very lip of a steep cliff. In masala films cliffs and waterfalls have critical roles to play. He had her cornered. She can escape only by jumping down the cliff into the river far below, and she does just that to the jubilation of the front benchers. I was jubilant too for during the melee on the screen I boldly placed my father's hand on my breast and held it there. With my hand on it I made him squeeze my breast. I leant my head on his shoulder and he caressed my head with his other hand and kissed me on the forehead. I had crossed the line—we were now lovers.
I clung on to him on the way out of the theatre and during the auto ride back home. On the dark steep stairway we hugged and kissed passionately on the lips.
"Must have been a thrilling movie," said Daya, "you face shows it."
"The best movie experience ever," I said.
"I hugged him," I told mother later when Daya was not there.
"Poor man, he needs it," said mother.
I served him supper. We ate in silence. My thoughts were on how I should proceed. I was in a state of total arousal and bold to the point of recklessness. I soon had my plans ready. After supper, always a light meal, father watched TV. Half and hour after supper I would heat a cup of milk in the microwave oven and he would sip it. Today I will do more.
I do not normally watch TV with him at that hour. I had other things to do. Later I join him for a couple of serials. To day I sat by his side holding his hands, then I lent on him and he lovingly held me by the shoulders. I rubbed my cheek on his shoulder.
"It is milk time," I said. "Today the milk will be special."
"Hope you are not mixing Ovaltine or some such thing. I am not a fan of those."
"It is something different."
"Appa, you must be patient. That is what you used to tell me when I was little. What I have lined up for you though very special is old stuff for you, very old stuff." I did not wait for his reply. I moved to my room. I had some preparation to do.
First I rummaged through our collection of gifted silverware and picked a tumbler with embossed designs on it. I polished it till was as good as new. I changed my sari to one of thin material. I did not wear a skirt. I removed my blouse and bra and covered my chest with the pallav. I saw myself in the full length wardrobe mirror. I liked what I saw. Suddenly I felt weak. My knees seemed to give way. I sat. What I was contemplating was something quite beyond my comprehension but some force within me was impelling me on. I stood up. I suddenly felt strong. I prostrated myself in front of the deity in the puja corner and prayed to the Almighty for His pardon for the embarking on an adventure that society so strongly disapproves of. I prayed to Him to bless me. I poured the boiling hot milk in the tumbler and sallied out with a thudding heart.
When father saw me his eyes widened and then his jaw dropped. I smiled.
"Do I remind you of mother," I said. He nodded feebly. "Here is your special milk."
He took the tumbler and turned it round.
"Must be a familiar, this tumbler."
"Yes. How did you know?"
"I did not. I saw the elaborate design and guessed it must be that. Drink Appa, drink when it is piping hot. You know why." He looked up. I allowed the pallav to slip off my shoulder. I do not have words to describe my father's face when he saw his darling daughter standing before him with breasts exposed. I held his free hand and took it to my breast. "Think I am Amma and hold it." He rested his trembling hand on the breast. "Hold it," I said. He held it with finger tips. "You can do better than that." I took his hand and moulded it on my breast. Still holding it I said, "Squeeze." He squeezed. I felt great affection for him at that moment. "My most darling Appa," I said and kissed him on the cheek. This was no lover's kiss. It was a daughter's kiss. "Now sip the hot milk." He sipped. I came closer to him and took a nipple and placed it between his lips. Hesitantly he parted his lips and took the offering. "Firmly Appa, I must feel the warmth. Amma told me about it. Here take another sip. Amma called it heat transfer." Thus goaded father took a sip and immediately held my nipple between his lips. I felt the heat. It was delicious. We did that a number of times and them to the other nipple. The cup was half empty. We had played out one part of Amma's script. I boldly launched the other more critical second part.