Recap S1E14 Shom and Raima: The Only Way Out: Shom and Raima break away from the gathering and set off on a drive down Palm Beach Road. They look back on their ten-year old relationship and recall their first meeting after chatting on Facebook for several days.
Shom was amused to see Raima in a jovial mood, making suggestive gestures. He drew her close to him, clasping her body against his and covering her face with tender kisses. He admired her for having got over her past.
He didn’t want them to get emotionally involved. All he wanted was an understanding that would satisfy their mutual needs. Pay-and-Park was the phrase commonly used for buying sex, with great emphasis on personal hygiene. It was the safest way to avoid physical and emotional infection.
He noticed Raima’s eyes were fixed on him, studying his expressions. He cupped her face gently in both hands and kissed her full on the lips. He had never been the type to pounce on a woman at the first opportunity, but today he couldn’t resist her at all. Her spicy perfume with a hint of daisies tingled his senses, intoxicating him. Her feet entwined in his, caressed his skin; her touch soft as a feather. Shom slipped his arms under Raima and in a swift motion, scooped her up. He felt great that he was strong enough to take her weight. She too was surprised and thrilled.
Today, women are paranoid about their weight. Being regarded as thin gives them a high. No wonder, these women – who are a subject of envy among other women – are called skinny bitches. Men who want to be manly, also love the idea of a size zero girl for the same reason they love golf. In both cases, it satisfies the male ego of being macho or a sportsman. Golf is the only sport you can play against yourself. Even if you get old and obese, you can play it as long as you can stand up for a while, hold a club in your hand and twist your hips to hit a stationary ball. We call it a sport because the millionaires who play golf love to be called sportsmen! Shom mused with a smile.
“Why are you smirking? Am I too heavy?” Raima asked.
“Not at all, I’m just guilty of abandoning my golf.”
“Why did you abandon it?”
He carefully placed her on the bed.
“You can either choose to put it in or putt it in,” he answered, laughing at his poor joke. “That’s what got Tiger in the Woods!”
Raima grinned, rolled her eyes and playfully smacked his arm. Locking his eyes with hers, he forgot all about golf and bent down to kiss them. Moving lower, he kissed her belly button on a belly that was totally flat. She indeed was a size zero.
As he gradually undressed her, he affectionately kissed every bit of her smooth honey-dipped skin. It really turned him on. Shom unhooked the thin pad-less bra that she was wearing. He looked at her breasts and she rushed to cover them, crossing her arms and giggling away. They were firm, a good size and shapely. He felt her nipples tingle as he rolled his tongue over them. The areola puckered up one at a time as her nipples stiffened. In her excitement, Raima pulled him down to her mouth; her tongue exploring every little corner inside him and then licking his cheeks and ears.
He started to unzip her pants and she softly enquired about the condom. Holy cow, how did he fuck up so bad?
“Thanks for telling me, you are in control, all right,” he said and looked for them everywhere but to no avail. “Let me get to the pharmacy quickly.” He was disturbed by his own negligence. He lowered the glass panel and asked the driver to stop at the first chemist shop he could get to.
“Haan saab, par aadha ghanta lagega.”
“Shit, we’re thirty minutes away from the pharmacy!” She looked quite charged-up but managed a smile.
“Come, lie here with me and relax,” she said.
“Let me get some more wine, this bottle is over.”
“Sure. Good idea. And could we reduce the AC?” she asked, slipping her partly-exposed body under the comforter.
“Should I raise the temperature or reduce the draught on your side?” he asked.
She looked up. “Yes, the draught.”
He turned off the vent. It was one of the many vents above her.
“Thanks. That’s better,” she said. “This is designed like an aircraft.”
“Yes, although I call it a Land Yacht. If I turn off the lights it will become pitch dark even while the outside is bright and sunny. These blinds are thick and concealing,” Shom pointed out.
“I didn’t realise we had the lights on and it’s almost noon.”
“You forget the time and place in here,” he said.
Raima replied with a big smile.
Shom dimmed the lights, changed the colour to blue and changed the CD to Julie London from her album ‘Latin in Satin Mood.’
“How romantic! You are such a pet,” she said, kissing his cheeks. Then her mobile rang. Shom wondered whether it was one of her lovesick customers. Why did she have to take these calls right now?
Raima was talking in Bengali, a language he could understand a little. From what he could gather, she was talking to her mother. In a matter of seconds, her expression changed from concern to one that showed her taking charge of the situation. She asked her mother to hand the phone to the attending nurse to whom she fired off some instructions. After telling the nurse to keep her updated on the situation she hung up, seeming slightly relieved.
“Ami actu bujte perechi,” Shom said with a sly grin.
“Oui ma! Aapni ki Bangali?” she erupted, her chocolate-brown eyes twinkling.
“No, no, I set up my branch office in Calcutta and have a lot of friends there, so I picked up a bit of Bengali. Tell me, do you have any problems at home? Can I help in any way?”
“Thanks, no problems at all, only the normal stuff. What I’m going through right now is nothing compared to the difficulties I’ve had to face since childhood. This,” she said, pointing around her, “is my most luxurious escape.”
“Do you need to go home early?” he asked, realising her mother might need her.
“Not at all, I’m a night bird. I get home quite late usually and sometimes my work keeps me away for days.”
“What sort of work?” He was intrigued.
“I’m a working partner at an event management company. We take up contracts like the launch of a new residential complex for T-Raheja’s. It involves everything from catering to making modifications in the model, post-building occupancy certificates, exhibiting the model with close-up photographs, making up a sample apartment, finalizing the décor and arranging a party to get celebrities and some pretty faces to attend. It’s quite satisfying. Apart from my architectural background I get to learn the business and marketing side of projects. Plus, it’s a far more lucrative option money-wise as well, as opposed to making drawings for an architect where I would have zero creative control.”
“You have so much to do. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, that’s for only a few hours a day. Besides I need to indulge in intelligent company like yours and acquire some acumen to build my career, don’t I?” she said, breaking into a smile. She was too smart and knew how to talk her way out of things, Shom realised. He then decided to come forth and ask the question that had been nagging him for a while.
“How often do you escort people like me?”
“Like you? Never. Escorting? Yes, very selectively though and I don’t do it just for money but also for my, you know, womanly needs.” She paused to see his reaction. “I am sorry if I have put you off but I belong to a section of liberated women, the kind that is yet to be accepted in this society but exists in large numbers nonetheless,” she added matter-of-factly.
“Hmm, you mean the ones that are aping the West? Or the new-age evolution of women that has come about by their financial independence? I see a standing example of that in you. And I admire it very much.”
“Absolutely! I take great pride in the fact that financially or otherwise, I am not dependent on a man for my survival. You know, I have never been able to talk to any man like this before. Usually, they are patronising, condescending, unconvinced or think I’m in a sort of rebellious phase which I will eventually snap out off. As though I’m going to soon come to my senses and surrender myself to the ‘security’ offered by a man. You are the only one so far who actually seems to understand,” Raima said and leaned in close to his lips. “Shom, you are a rare, almost unreal, whatchamacallit – yes! A freak case!”
She burst into giggles and then leapt like a tigress over him. Suddenly, the intercom came alive. The driver announced that they were approaching the chemist’s shop. Shom got out of the van the moment it stopped and walked to the pharmacy there. The shutters were half-closed; the business would commence only after the lunch break. He requested the attendant to make an exception. “Okay,” said the attendant. “Only if it is an emergency.”
He asked for the doctor’s prescription and wanted to know which life-saving drug was needed. Shom gave him an awkward smile and walked away. He made a sheepish face and told Raima the whole story. They burst out laughing. No sooner did they enter Khandala than Shom picked up a pack of condoms along with a bottle of lubricant and a hand sanitiser. This is what was missing in the van, he thought, and made a note to tell Khush.
Shom and Raima had lunch at Duke’s Retreat. It was a cosy place at the highest point of Khandala with an amazing view of lush hills and valleys. They sat there enjoying their meal and the landscape. Since it was a working day afternoon, the place was isolated.
“So is Facebook your channel to solicit?’ Shom enquired.
“You’re quite blunt but I like it. I’ve already told you it isn’t. Anyway, now is the time for you to clarify all that you want to know about me,” she stated. “As regards Facebook, I go on it for fun. I like to experiment with new things and new people. You could say I’m quite adventurous that way. I have sailed through so much shit in my life that I don’t fear any person or anything anymore. I admit I got too involved in the chat the other day. It got interesting and I saw the prospect of getting to meet someone extremely riveting and intelligent. You can’t blame a girl for trying, can you? Besides, if you’d like you can be my friend, philosopher and guide,” she concluded with a mischievous smile.
“I would like that. Very much! So what do you think of me?” Shom asked, fishing for compliments. After everything she had said, she sounded so together and so in charge of her life, he almost needed her approval of him. He couldn’t believe he was actually thinking like this but he couldn’t shake the feeling.
“Well…,” she said, giving him a coy look, “You are more than what I expected but then again, you are far too wary to openly face this world and you are living in constant fear.”
“What kind of fear?”
“The fear of tainting your well-established image. The fear of being hurt. You are overly sensitive too, so the fear of losing your handle on your emotions. Am I on the right track?”
“How do you know? And you talk with such authority,” he said, truly amazed.
“I have lived an unsheltered life ever since I was a little girl. Because of that I’ve learned the art of gauging people. Whereas you have lived your life to earn a lot of respect from the people around you and now you live in the fear of losing it. Keep in mind Shom, living in fear is no living at all.”
She was simply too smart for her age. “You seem to have already formed an opinion about me. Seemed to have figured me all out,” he said. “What would you do in my place?”
“Frankly, I don’t know. I cannot imagine myself in your place but there’s one thing I know for sure. All of us try to please others. We are just worried about how others perceive us and not focused on who we really are. We are always struggling to live up to their expectations and in the process, we lose our true identity. That’s what makes us miserable.”
She looked at him before she continued. “The fact that you enquired about my opinion shows that you too are stuck in the same rut as the rest of us.”
“You aren’t fit to live in a society, if you don’t care for anyone’s opinion,” replied Shom. Although he was impressed by her wisdom, he was also slightly shaken by her words.
“Are you going to allow yourself to be judged by a society of insecure and narrow-minded hypocrites? What is this country all about except for a few pockets here and there of advanced thinkers who inspire our thoughts?” she exclaimed.
“Well, you do have a valid point there. On the chat the other day, we were so cool because we didn’t know each other to care about what the other thought.” Then wanting to change the mood to something lighter, he asked her a question.
“I would like to buy you a gift. Tell me what do you like the most.”
“You don’t have to buy me a gift, we’ve just met,” Raima replied.
“Well, we might have just met but I have come to know you well and you know me inside out!” he said laughing softly, caressing her cheeks with the back of his right hand.
She held it and kissed it. “My gift is your company.”
“Still, I’d like to buy you something that will help with your career, a laptop maybe?”
“I already have an awesome Mac.”
“If you have everything, then I suggest you just keep saving money in the bank.” He handed her a bundle of 500-rupee notes. Alarmed, she refused to take it.
“This is a lot of money. I’m not used to so much.”
He gave her a stern look and made her put it safely in her purse.
“Why are you doing this? I thought I made it clear this isn’t about money,” she said. Tears slicked her eyes.
He realised what he had done was harsh but he had to do it to have no emotional obligation – something a married man could not afford. However, he had to put her at ease. Her face had fallen and she looked so upset.
“I’d love to be with you only if you allow me to compensate you for your time. More so, I can well afford to do that,” he said, gently lifting her chin to meet his eyes. “I promise though, I will never reward you when we make love since that benefits our mutual needs. And most importantly, we will indulge in it only when you desire. So, whenever we meet like this, I’ll continue to gift you something and it will be left entirely up to you whether you want to make love or not. There will be no compulsion on your part to oblige me. Okay?”
She looked at him with an expression that was half mollified and half curious.
“I think you are mad,” she smiled. “I will always be in the mood, but what if you are not?”
“Me? I’m like a battery that never loses its charge,” he laughed. “And I know that’s the way it’s going to be when I am with you. Besides, if I fail to satisfy you, I will be committing a capital crime and shall be liable for the strictest penalty,” he joked.
She cuddled him, the tears, now of joy and relief, slipping down her cheeks.
“Please don’t say such things. When I’m with you, I care for something far more than just sex. Don’t ask me what it is. Even I don’t know yet.”
Her face filled Shom with a fondness he once knew he was capable of, and then he looked away as guilt filled him.
Next Story: S1E16 Shom and Raima Set Off from Khandala