Monthly Story, February 2023
Image → John Mor
Archetype → Rebel
Rasa → Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: white
Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green,
Shali watched Dev with the same roguish interest of a house cat considering a beautiful bird—for play more than necessity. “God, I want to break him,’ Shali thought to herself as her hands made a ritual of moving between her mouth and the ashtray. Dev politely moved the chairs and pushed them back into place for the occupants as he squeezed past them through the packed bar, apologizing to each person. Shali eyed the contour of his arms; she never thought masculinity would arouse a warm liquid sensation in her.
Seeing Shali’s face lit with intentions, Umi—Shali’s best friend narrowed her eyes from across the table; she had been pointedly cold towards this new obsession with Dev. ‘You’re not into guys. Why are you trying to impress him?’ she had asked repeatedly and Shali had not been able to explain the unlikely attraction beyond ‘He’s just not like other guys’.
But Dev really was different from most young men she knew. While the others would froth and flock at any hint of an opportunity to get underneath her clothes, Dev didn’t. Even when she drunkenly pursued his hands on the dance floor and put them on her breasts, he had remained in his charmingly innocent poise. There was a sense of quietly determined softness to him that challenged Shali.
‘It’s just a phase,’ Umi had shrugged it off at the end when Shali’s new infatuation persisted over the weeks. But, isn’t everything a phase? Shali had asked herself in the quiet pauses between the conversations. To her, every attraction had always been a phase. Each time, it would climb like a wave into a heaving bulb of desire in her, then throb and peak before it faded away. It was always a phase, a passing wave.
Although Umi didn’t know it, Shali had realized that what she enjoyed about all those pleasurable moments behind the stadium with other school girls was that they had to be stolen; that what triggered warm liquid sensations to concentrate in pools along her skin was the general idea of rule-breaking, not necessarily masculinity or femininity.
Ignoring Umi’s glare, Shali scooched over to make room for Dev next to her. He smiled politely while taking the spot. Without wasting a second, Shali rested her leg against Dev’s and let it sit there. Oh, how she loved that feeling between her and brand-new skin. It was a sensation that only belonged to the new and it didn’t last forever, Shali knew. She put out the cigarette and washed her mouth with some red as Dev flashed his perfect white teeth at her. ‘Hi’, she said, dropping her eyes to his forearms. Shali didn’t have to see his face to know that Dev sensed something was coming to break his doors open.
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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.