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Cross Road

As Nandini stepped into Room No #444, she pondered whether her life was a resurrection of Damien. If so, instead of Omen, this could be a Hollywood blockbuster. The bellboy collected the tips leaving her alone in the deluxe suite. She stripped nude, stepping into the bath to coddle herself, before the arrival of her worthy guest of the eve. By today’s norms, anyone with sufficient dosh, qualified for the title. There was no dearth of them around her.

Not many could afford the deluxe suite of the Oberoi Grand at MG Road, Bengaluru except for notable ones like Mr. Vishwanath. Whenever in town, he chose to unwind in her comfy, in this grandee suite. She was pristine, unique and discreet. Even the plush business feasts were less attractive than her genial presence.

Slut!

Who would dare to be cheeky with her hourly earnings of two lakhs? Half for the agency, rest was hers. If it stretched over the whole night, it would be eight lakhs take home, after paying the agency. It hardly mattered how she was decked – slut, whore or call-girl. The bread was prime than fancy ornate names. She was The Empress Elite of the fistful elites of ‘poor’ India.

Blissfully refreshed, she slipped into flimsy deep blue silky lingerie, topped by a toning negligee. From the well-stocked bar, she fished out the Glenfiddich[1], laid it on the balcony tea-poi with couple of glasses and the ice bucket. Lighting a fag, she relaxed, supping the drink on he rocks, gazing at the sky. The full-moon surfaced with its matte hue as the woolly clouds drifted. Mom had cited her birth was on a full-moon night. The family priest had forecast her life would glow like the moon.

“Shameless! Can’t dream of a future with you fluffing with lads, in your skimpy dress” dad derided.

In her teens, she had perfect curves with ample fullness at apposite areas. This would spawn ogles and drools from youths. She moved with her air, while myriad hearts stumbled to hasty ruins. Not her fault. Life was meant to move ahead. Hardly made sense to look back at the sufferers. She never did.

“Your fast life may draw street Romeos. It’ll be hard to find a suitor. As your dad, I’ve to bear with you” dad scoffed.

“Don’t worry about my marriage or future” she brushed past singing ‘Que sara sara’.

Her prophecy turned into reality without the choice of quizzing the family priest’s forecast.

She grinned eyes shut at the irony, stubbing the fag in the tray. She had deserted the idea of being pejorative between right and wrong. Which qualification could fetch her a couple grand in an hour other than her crotch? Values were for the orthodox bourgeois. She had risen above those petty slogans.

“The whore is back” dad’s scoff was enough to put her off, while still in school, when she returned late one eve.

Providence has its own ways of parting resentful souls. From the haven of her own niche, she strode into a life of insecurity. Discretion is the better part of valour. She nurtured herself to the acme of being discretely distinct.

“Have you reached there? Would be late” Vishwanath checked.

“A while back. Take your time. Doting the moon with a drink in the balcony”

“Don’t forget the grub. Don’t fancy your gruff famished look” he hung up with a smirk.

Food and fuck. The world was after fleabags. If only dad understood! He would have zipped his traditional values for a fertile mission. She often wondered the validity of these obscure maxims. The idea of right and wrong was so variable. Was it for a cohesive edict of monopoly?  Akin to the politicisation of religion or culture, to slake the subliminal ego of supremacy.

Had Nandini joined the trend, her ego would have sky-rocketed. A trait of dominance stealthily drifts in disguise. In disguise of love and empathy, silently without any conflict. 444 or 666 or www – all focused-on supremacy. The impact is the key. At 444, www is free. Accosted Nandini had started the game of life. Nightcap with a slut is fine. But a story on her?!

“Would you pen my story?”

Would it be complete, even if one attempts to coin it? All stories merge to a specific pattern, within the known paradigms.

At the tinkle of the doorbell, she wrapped the flimsy negligee to respond, “Who’s it?”

“Who else but me?”

Walking in, Vishwanath planted a kiss on her cheek “Sorry for being late”. Placing the briefcase on the table, he hurried to the loo “I’m dying for a pee. Ordered some snack?”

“Not yet. Waiting for you”

Vishwanath valued her Bengali norms, which made Nandini unique. He valued her enriched skilful humane touch.

“Place the order while I’ve a shower. Make it filling. I’m starving”

She ordered the room service a lavish Italian cuisine. He walked out from the shower naked “Fetch me the bathrobe. Will you?” Wrapping it, he settled in the balcony settee “It’s been a hectic day”

“Take it easy” she handed over the single-malt “Your weary look spells it”

“You were staring at the moon from here?” he sipped the malt.

“The sheen of the moon with the clouds floating away. When was it last you had the time to relish it?”

“Not recently. Fancy a moonlit dinner here?"

“Why not?”

The bearer spread the meal in balcony. They ate in silence. The room service cleared the spill-beans and left with a five-hundred tip. Weary Vishwanath eased in bed. He savoured her curves, as she slipped her negligee, strolling to the loo in her blue lingerie, gently sliding the door behind. Soon she was back afresh, emitting the Dior from her nude figure, ready to paint the new pic of the eve romp. By then, he was snoozed. It must have been a hectic day. With the night still young, leaving him to catnap, she strolled to the balcony to watch the caper of the moon. Now the moon appeared less bright, playing hide and seek with the clouds. Soon, the white woollens were swapped by dark blotches announcing an outpour.

She couldn’t remember how long she had been gawking at their vibrant frolic. Back in the room, she found him asleep.  She gently shoved him. He lay inert, his arms limp. Panicked, she checked his cardinals. There wasn’t sign of life.

“Come immediately. Hurry. Emergency!” she shrieked, ringing the reception.

Soon the room was swarmed with the hotel staff including the in-house physician. Vishwanath was rushed to hospital emergency with full life support, only to be declared ‘brought dead’ on arrival.

Nandini returned to Room #444, confused. She was in a dilemma whether to confront the outcome on spot or furtively slip out. While packing her gear she remembered a golden axiom ‘Ne’er loiter with the departed, else you can’t move forward’

She had a long voyage ahead. As The Empress Elite, she was born to satiate her clients than moan in solemn serenade. She was destined to bloom bright, even in her cocooned humane. She was the prodigal daughter of Kamdhenu[2] and Vashishtha[3], the Empress Divine of pleasure. Her glow lay in its emission. People don’t shell out a double grand for her surly emotions. She was on the go for her next.

Nandini groped her hand bag. She fished out a teeny leather purse with a combo lock. Under its leather jacket was a fine steel mesh. On unbolting the combo, out came an Aeik[4] with just ten numbers in memory, without name tags. These were emergency numbers, which she never had to use earlier. But today was different. To escape the mess, she had to call one of these impersonal numbers.

As she dialled, a cloying female replied “Relax. Tell me your problem dear…”

 


[1] Single-malt whiskey

[2] Kamadhenu also known as Surabhi is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle as well as the eleven Rudras.

[3] Vashishtha was the seventh, the present Manvantara or age of Manu He was the manasputra (god-child) of Lord Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners.

[4] Small mobile phone