Monday, June 18, 2007

Memories of a once sanguine whore

Apparently, I was once a courtesan. One of those dancing sirens who only service clients of royal descent. Powerful creatures, they are. Powerful and beautiful.

Of course, my life, presently, bears not the remotest resemblance to that distant time, save for one thing – I still like dancing in that roll-your-‘r’s-and-say-dirrrrrrrrteh way.

So apparently I was once a courtesan with many lovers. And one of them was a Nawab. He came aplundering from the Far East. He had this way about him. Wild, sexual, reckless, intense. He frightened me, and he drove me insane with lust and longing and something else. Something that I was afraid of. Something that could perhaps, maybe, sometimes have been love.

But I was a courtesan, wasn’t I? Courtesans don’t fall in love. They make love. Like wild ruthless temptresses, they plunge into their lovers’ fantasies, and drag them out by the follicles, stomping over delicately constructed, tediously drawn out relationships that are of no consequence in that place you get to, at the far end of pleasure.

Each night, noon and morning, starting late, starting early, not pausing a moment, he and I, we sported with one another, building and destroying moments of delight, diving in, diving out of skin and time. All the while falling deeper and deeper into a murky little truth.

I was. Falling in love.

I didn’t want to. I didn’t care to. It was wrong. It’s always wrong, I told myself. You’ll be finished. Done. Destroyed.

The life of a courtesan is built on tangible things. Not on stray thoughts and feelings and things that cannot be touched and kneaded and beckoned and pleasured and bought and turned and made and destroyed. Everything is destructible. Delectable. Tentative.

Such things are learnt at a tender age. Apparently. Even a courtesan’s life begins somewhere, doesn’t it? A somewhere that is predated by innocence and a dream of everlastingness. I too must’ve learnt the art of pleasure. And not unhappily I am sure. I cannot remember now. Or perhaps I haven’t the imagination to retell a long forgotten sequence of events.

So I must’ve learnt. To soften my touch and strengthen my heart. To yield honey from my orifices and seal my soul. And I must’ve been pretty darned good at it. Because I became a courtesan, didn’t I? Apparently.

Many lovers fell. I’m certain. Arrogance, like the heady odour of sex on silken sheets, doesn’t leave the soul very easily. So I can imagine this. That they milled around me, seeking more than what their touch could reach.

I'm certain I didn’t relent. I allowed them what they could pay for. But no more. I had no use for their fickly hearts. I didn’t loathe them. Not really. It’s always a pleasure to be appreciated for a job well done.

Then one day, he rode into the city. No. No ‘rode’ is completely inappropriate. He was brought to the city, in a chariot of velvet and gold, reclining and bored. Preceded and succeeded by a bevy of foot soldiers, courtiers, servants and sex slaves. That is how he arrived. I am certain.

I wasn’t impressed when they told me about him. Curious. Yes. About his money. Yes. He, I could imagine, was like any other Nawab. A gambling pleasure seeker.

I was right. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

See, the thing or two that I had garnered about royalty is that they’re mostly like overripe fruit. Lush, squishy, pampered, and drenched to the centre with self-importance and alcohol. Or like foie gras. Fatty and spoilt. Tenderised to a point of disintegration – all for a moment’s pleasure.

Apparently.

But this man, the Nawab, my Nawab, he wasn’t like that. At all. He gambled, but differently. His recklessness was of another kind. The pleasure he sought was beyond grasp. That’s why, now in retrospect I understand, he was bored. Terribly. And it couldn’t have been more staid and expected – our first meeting.

He had heard that mine was the most sought pleasure spot in the city. I had heard he was the richest pleasure seeker in town. Messengers flew back and forth till one moonlit night, wrapped in shimmering sheets of silk, separated from the night by starry sequin clan muslin curtains, drenched in wine from far off Madrid, we met, like two jaded bodies ready for a long moment of joyless pleasure.

But something strange happened that night.

He made love to me. Not I to him. He sought to pleasure me. Not I him. And despite his large Nawably frame, he unravelled me with the dexterity of a nimble gymnast.

It bewildered me that there could be such an uncommonly tender, fascinatingly skilled, spirited yet spiritless lover. For the first time I felt swept away in a tide of pleasure that overtook my head. For the first time, I truly felt an other-worldly creative burst in the art of love making, that had erstwhile been largely mechanical and well plotted, like an over-practised, dispassionately performed piece of classical music.

[I also can’t help but ‘notice’ the archness of my analogies. I must’ve obviously fancied myself more than just an artisan of caresses. Not entirely, I’m almost certain, to the agreement of those subjected to these other dubious talents.]

And yet, for the first time, anyone, someone – he, refused to let me dip my fingers into his heart. Lovers, normally, are easy. Once you have them by the 'nads, you can pretty much strum twenty one hundred ghazals on their fickle heart strings and they will sing like bulbuls. Of course there are cynics too. While some have, as Gabo once said, a million chambers in their hearts to truly fall in love with each woman they have adored, there are others whose hearts are completely vacant, disused garages that house a few lonely lizards.

But this one, my Nawab, he was different. His heart seemed untouched by the excesses of his body. When he gambled, it did not matter whether he won or lost. Wealth would leave and enter his vaults like tempestuous winds on the South Seas, yet his eyes remained glazed over with indifference. When he lavished his body on orgies of the most delirious kind, his pleasure was superficial and his flesh unflinching. Because, as I came to read him more closely, I could see at all such times, his eyes remained unperturbed.

Grey green pools of a serenity that was impenetrable, they reflected, with uncommon ease, the depth of his thought and the consonance of his heart with his soul. And, they reflected a deep unrequited longing.

A longing that impregnated my being, and grew within my belly, making me nauseous each day with a deep uncertainty of the order of the universe as I had known it. Every morning, as my mind became convulsed with confusion and this new sensation of something growing within my heart, I felt increasingly unsure of myself.

Why did my life, as I had lived it so far, feel so meaningless?

Why was I willing to give up everything that I held of value, and for what?

What was this unnameable thing that was ailing my soul?


Why did I crave to be with my Nawab every moment?




Had I been aware with some semblance of objectivity of my state of mind, I would have perhaps not failed to notice the clichéd quality of the questions that besieged my brain. But little did I suspect that I was in the grasp of a scoff worthy, common place affliction.

Regardless of whether we touched or spoke, the desire to be in his presence within a glance of that grey green oasis became the most important goal of my existence. Each time I looked into his eyes, something stirred and kicked in my centre.

As for him, I noticed. I couldn’t help it, but I saw that as his gaze upon me became tenderer, his touch became more distant. The deeper I fell into his eyes, the further away he went.

Then one day, in a particularly turbulent throe of my daily delirium, I spoke my heart to him.

“Nawab, I do not know if you have noticed, but there is something that ails my heart.”

He continued sucking at his hookah, not saying anything. Just a steady rumble of water and fire in the belly of the smoking pot. Coming from my Nawab, this was a sound that I had begun to love; it filled the silent corners of my empty house and somehow brought back memories of the steady hum of a bustling household that lay buried in a nebulously distant childhood.

Petulantly, I continued, mildly chagrined by his refusal to respond.

“I find that I am unable to anchor my thoughts in a single pursuit, and yet my heart seems to know only one thing.”

I fiddled with the tasselled end of my braid nervously. I had worn a brilliant red tassel that I had been gifted by one of the girls. In the days since I had met my Nawab, it had become impossible for me to touch any of the expensive gifts that my artistry had earned me. Suddenly everything seemed tainted with the presence of others and in my present condition, the crowding ghosts of such meaningless memories that these objects carried became more and more distressing to my fragile constitution.

“It has become difficult for me to continue with the daily exercise of living as I have known it so far. I cannot bear to think of another’s touch, and I feel I must give up my present way of life to be at peace.”

His silence now gnawed at me, yet I continued.

“I believe I have come to love you Nawab, and my heart will have no rest until I know how you feel”.

Shortly after my uneven speech, without a word of farewell, he left. The next morning I sent a messenger to his house.

He returned with news that I expected.

“Bibijaan, the Nawab has left with his entourage. No one knows where they have gone. The mansion looks as if it has lain empty for a year and a day.”

I dismissed him in a fit of rage.

I tore down the muslin curtains and burnt the sheets of silk. I stopped eating and sleeping and I refused all those who came to my doorstep, till soon even the last servant was dismissed and not a soul was seen outside my shut door.

Consumed with a raging fever, I swore that I would have my peace. Even if I had to stumble through the ages, I would find him and make him love me.

“Wander as far as you will my beloved, for each time that we meet I will lavish my love upon you, so that one day, when you are weary and brimful with walking away, you will return.”

I never saw my Nawab again in the few remaining days I had.

***

As I lay in my deathbed, in the silent company of my fevered thoughts, one moment returned with such frequency that by the time I abandoned my breath, it was the only thing that I could perceive.

The last time my Nawab laid his hands upon me, minutes before he walked away, he cupped my face in his palms, holding it just inches from his and he gazed deeply into my troubled eyes. In that moment, for the first and last time I was swallowed whole by a grey green deluge that had abandoned its grasp of serenity.

His eyes. They shone with something that though I recognised, I could not place. It hadn’t struck me then that they reflected that same deep ache that had undone me.

14 comments:

houseband00 said...

Hey H, actually got your message. Fixed the mistake. It really was supposed to be my sis' blog. Big sleepy mistake. Thanks for the heads up! =)

Prude said...

Oh dear.

I won't lie...I won't be abashed about it but I've read tons of romances...the sheiks and the highlanders...tons. Never before was the ending so unpredictable.
It was so real I want to know...to ask...in a fevered whisper...'who was she'?...But alas it is fiction.

Enchanted.

I would not want to admit that you had me transported in a fantasy world with fears not very unfamiliar. No I would not.

Lizza said...

Once again your words leave me speechless. You express so eloquently and so vividly lots of emotions that I can't put words to.

*sigh*
*sigh*
*sigh*

Tsu said...

I have never been captured so much that I actually read this post word to word. (Gulity of skimming thru passages in blogs) but this one was different. Personally Thank You for this one. and the expressions of love and love making and the last expression complimented each other so well.
Just makes me want to ask the question Why do people do the things they do (when in love or out of it)
Amazed!! :)

B Ditty said...

Amazing, I dipped in and out of reality with it. Occasionally I thought it had to be real to have such emotion. Then I remembered H is a genius and she can do anything.

B Ditty said...

You should write a book and send one to me as well :)

Arcane Crapper said...

I can't help but smile inwardly and very secretly at this exquisite web of words and deceit you have spun.

destroying moments of delight, diving in, diving out of skin and time...

To yield honey from my orifices and seal my soul.

I was swallowed whole by a grey green deluge that had abandoned its grasp of serenity.

Truly, your words, they shine with something that though I recognise, I cannot place. It hadn’t struck me that they reflected that same deep ache that has now undone me.

:)

H said...

Very dear precious words from you, Prude, Lizza, tsu, Ben, AC, thank you so very much. I wasn't sure, and yet I wanted to post this story.

tsu, welcome :-).

AC... I'm curious. I've construed that in several ways.

once again, thanks guys. very seriously.

pRicky said...

Ovation...
Standing one at that!!!
So stand up bow and then do it again cause the readers aint stopping...
But
Apparently...
I feel theres lots more than meets the eye...

Arcane Crapper said...

Ah... We're probably thinking along the same lines then. Is that construable enough? :)

houseband00 said...

Nice new look, H. =)

Subtle.

H said...

hello Ponderer, thank you very much :-)

AC: haha, ok. I'll take your word for it :-)

HB, thanks.

houseband00 said...

Damn gray greens.

H said...

Nah. I'd say bless grey greens. :-D