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Monthly Story, December 2022


Image Angela Roma

Rasa → Śāntam: Peace or tranquility. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white.

Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green,



As Jamila stepped onto the cobblestone floors, a reassuring composure welcomed her. It was her favourite villa at the old Dutch fort. Although a sunny April sat outside, it felt as if she had just weathered a storm. Feeling her phone vibrating again, Jamila held down the power button without looking at the screen. Her former fiancé, his family, and her family drove her crazy—collectively and individually. She just had to shut them out.

Jamila drank in the space hungrily while being checked in. It was a spectacular seventeenth-century hospice building turned into a villa. Although she had covetously dined at its restaurant, and religiously liked every single picture that they posted, Jamila had never stayed here before. In fact, she had never stayed anywhere alone before. Her right leg shuddered, twitching unstoppably under the reception desk. The old hospice walls reassured her that everything will be alright. Surrounded by its wizened beauty—holding the centuries within limestone pores, bearing countless stories of broken minds and bones that healed between these walls—Jamila couldn’t help but trust this place.

As soon as left alone in the room, she turned the bathtub tap on and started to undress. Seeing her body emerge from the clothes—thighs, stomach, arms, breasts–Jamila felt her heart rate quicken. Her pubic hair shone black bronze caught in a streak of southern sun sneaking between the curtains. Arching her back, Jamila savoured the vision in the generous mirror.

For as long as she could remember, the thought or sight of others’ bodies or their beauty didn’t quite excite Jamila. But, the effect that her own body had was almost immediate; carefully hidden secret pleasures would escape her effortlessly, seeping uncontrollably. But, living in a world where passion was predominantly a phenomenon to be shared with another, Jamila could never quite love herself without feeling guilty.

Her fingers stroked the ripple on the belly— a secret caress she had grown used to when longing for herself at stolen moments behind the work desk, or when she got the corner seat in the office commute, whenever Netflix got boring… But today, she didn’t have to stop there. Jamila let her fingers stray down to trace the pleasure fields in the folds and valleys of Venus.

Between flashes of parting the skin like petals and grasping at the ebb and flow of lines and curves along the body, Jamila felt her mind fill with something like music. Behind her, the bathtub was filling in unison. Lifted into the air, with the world drowned away into insignificance, Jamila soon found herself suspended somewhere in the zenith of the sky. Then, with an incredible release, she wept.

Finally emptied, Jamila wiped her face and turned the tap off. She lowered herself into the bathtub and felt the warm water surround her with liquid grace. Jamila realized that her insides had been brewing a storm since the arranged marriage was confirmed last year. And, when it finally broke out in lashing rains and thunder yesterday, she called off the engagement and didn’t return home to her parents after work. She came to the villa instead. Coming dangerously close to getting locked into a default life that wasn’t hers, Jamila understood that without making room for who she is, there will never be space for happiness. Yes, passion for self had no biological purpose; but, does everyone have to contribute to this frenzy to propagate? Jamila had no answers.

Everything will be alright, the old limestone walls assured her.

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The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

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