The Vacation

Note: Fiction

We had been seeing each other for a few months when we decided to take a vacation together. Things between us were good. He was kind and attentive. And there was little conflict.
It was a departure from the kind of relationships I usually get into with emotionally abusive men who are unhappy until they have complete control over my life. He wasn’t like that. He never raised his voice, and he seemed to relish the fact that I am an independent woman and I don’t need a man to take my decisions for me. Even sexually he was like a whole other world.
Especially sexually.
With most men I had been with before him I had never felt that often-mentioned inexplicablespark that makes you weak in the knees. With them the sex had been almost like a ritual we were doomed to perform on a nightly basis in the interest of the health of our relationship. But with him, the sex was an adventure. I felt like I had been a virgin until he showed me just how much pleasure two bodies working in tandem could create. He made me do things I had never even thought to do before. He put his hands around my throat, he threw me around, he even struck me in the heat of the moment. He had toys that I thought were only used in porn; handcuffs, little floggers, ropes. It was all so exciting. There was nothing respectful about him inside the bedroom. And I could not get enough. He had in his fingers the power to turn me into a shameless junkie.
So when he suggested we spend a few days together in a remote fishing village that was famed for its pristine beaches, I was thrilled. Not wanting to seem overly-eager I told him that I would check my work schedule and let him know if I could manage to take the time off.
He told me to let him know as soon as possible.

Five days later, we loaded up his car and left at the crack of dawn for our vacation. I had packed two new bathing suits and way too many shorts and dresses. When he saw the size of my bag, he laughed and said, “You sure packed a whole lot of clothes for a week you’re going to spend entirely naked.”
I blushed and he kissed me before he picked my bag up and put it in the trunk.
The drive was lovely. I fell asleep halfway through and only woke up when we had arrived at the little cottage we had rented from an old French couple.
It was white, and had a slanting brown roof. Wind chimes hung in the porch and there were white flowers growing all over the little garden. There was a forest right behind the house, and somewhere in the distance I could hear the ocean. It was the most serene atmosphere I have ever woken up to.
I helped him unload the car and we settled into the house. I suggested we get changed and go for a swim before lunch. He suggested he bend me over the oak dining table and fuck me before we do anything else. His suggestion had more value to it.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the town, basking in the sun and indulging in fresh seafood. On the walk back to the house, we bought some fish. Once home he made us dinner while I showered and set up the table. After dinner, I poured us some wine and we sat out on the porch.
“I love how dark it gets here,” he said, “Living in cities, we don’t understand what darkness really looks like.”
I snuggled closer to him and told him that the dark still scared me a little. A silly fear that I had carried with me since I was a child.
“Don’t worry,” he said lifting me in his arms, “I’ll keep you safe my dear.”
The next day we went diving. An activity we both loved. The bottom of the ocean amazes me each time. I cannot believe it really is there. Each time I am surrounded by the ocean, it changes me. The world becomes much more significant than I am to myself. It puts me in a mood; turns me into a romantic.
We spent the rest of the day inside the house. So far it was turning out that he was right, I really didn’t need as many clothes as I had carried.

That evening after we ate, we lay in bed talking. I was tired and bruised, but sated. He was trailing my nipple with his finger when he said, “You want to take a walk?”
“Sure,” I said, “But can we take a flashlight?”
He laughed jovially.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, “While you get dressed I’ll pack us an emergency supplies kit?”
I thought he was joking but when I met him at the door ten minutes later there really was a bag on his shoulders and a flashlight in his hands.
I laughed and told him I loved him. He hugged me and said he loved me too. We locked the door and left. He took my hand and we walked in the direction of the forest.
I finally understood what he meant by the darkness, I really couldn’t see a thing. He turned on the flashlight as soon as he felt me clutching his hand tighter.
For maybe twenty minutes we walked around in the forest when I started to worry we wouldn’t know the way back.
“Do you know how to get back?” I asked him.
“Of course,” he said, “Don’t worry.”
A few minutes later, he stopped and pushed me to my knees. I was slightly concerned about being outside but I knew there was no one around us so I took his cock out of his shorts and put it in my mouth. I love how it grew hard and thick in a matter of seconds when it was in my mouth.
“Love?” he said.
“Yes?” I asked while I stopped for breath.
“I’m going to blindfold you,” he replied.
I stopped short and stood up. It was bad enough that we were in the dark but being blindfolded in the dark sounded much worse. He must have seen my fear in my face because he immediately said, “You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but you never know, it might be another great experience.”
“I want to,” I told him, “But I’m afraid.”
He kissed me on my forehead, and said, “Don’t you trust me?”
“I do,” I said.

He didn’t just blindfold me, along with the blindfold he put a pair of handcuffs around my wrists and from what I heard he attached a metal chain to them. I imagined he didn’t ask permission because he had done that to me before. I remember realizing, in passing, that he had probably planned to do this all along. He strung me along, and I followed him. It was hard to walk while being led around with a line of sight; I stumbled and almost fell many times.
He wasn’t talking to me at all but I knew he was watching me because he caught me promptly each time I tripped. We didn’t walk very far but it seemed to take a long time.
My mouth was dry, and I wanted to tell him to remove the blindfold but before I could, he pushed me against what felt like a tree and began kissing me. His hand made its way between my legs while the other wrapped around my waist. Within seconds, I forgot about the blindfold, the cuffs, the darkness. I felt myself grinding against his palm while I moaned into his mouth.
A few minutes later he pulled me down to the ground. I lay on my back, and waited for him to climb on top of me. Instead I felt him standing behind my head whispering into my ear.
“You’re going to feel some rope on your now,” he whispered, “Don’t panic.”
I nodded my head slowly. I was way past panic, I wanted him to do whatever he wanted to me. I felt like I was high. Flying.
I couldn’t see what he tied me to; I could just feel my the cold metal pressed against my back while my ankles were linked to my elbows. I could move my feet just a little bit towards the inside and as much as liked towards the outside. My legs were spread wide open. He talked to me throughout as he worked the ropes, he stopped a few times in between and kissed me or ran his hands over my breasts. Or between my legs.

When he was done tying, he stopped talking. I felt him rip my clothes off my body, with what felt like a pair of scissors.
That frightened me. I suddenly realized I was about to be naked and tied up on display in the middle of nowhere.
“Please,” I said, “Stop, it’s enough, I am scared now.”
He didn’t say anything. He was done with my shirt and had moved onto my shorts.
“Please stop,” I said one more time. He didn’t respond.
I tried to get up but I couldn’t even angle my foot the correct way. So I struggled, I moved around until all my struggling resulted in the scissors poking me on my thigh. I screamed as I felt the sharp metal against my skin.
He pulled my shorts off. I was naked. I could feel the cold breeze all over my body.
“Love,” I said trying to be calm, “Please untie me, I am terrified, please.”
Once again, he didn’t respond. In fact, I couldn’t hear him anywhere around me. So I screamed. I screamed over and over again. It seemed that no one heard me. I began to worry he had left me alone in the dark, dense forest.
Naturally, I began to panic. I felt my heart explode in my chest. I could barely breathe and the more I moved the tighter the knots I was bound with became. I began to cry. For what felt like hours, I screamed his name. I thought I felt insects crawl all over me, I thought I heard wild animals in the bushes, I even thought I felt someone standing there and watching me.

Sometime amidst my hopeless tears, I heard someone scurrying the bushes. It had to be him. I called out to him. I begged him to untie me and take me home. I heard someone walk towards me. I was elated. Finally, I was going to be free.
Instead I felt a firm slap against my cheek. It felt like his hand, but I screamed again. It had to be him, I knew, but what if it was someone else?
Within a matter of moments, I felt him lie atop me and begin to fuck me. I begged once again to be let go, I tried to close my legs and throw him off me.
But I couldn’t, he fucked me till he came inside me. He groaned like he always did. Even in my state of abject panic, I was relieved to know it was him. He got off me and walked towards my head. His cum dripping out of me onto the grass.
“Please will you untie me now?” I begged, “Just, take this blindfold off me, I beg you.”
He was still standing behind my head when I felt another cock being stuffed inside me. I remember that scream as being the loudest on of all. I hadn’t even heard someone else approaching me
I heard him snigger behind my head, I began to hurl curses at him.
“You will spend the rest of your life in prison,” I told him anger taking over me completely as the skill-less dick of a complete stranger rubbed back and forth inside me.
I felt his face close to mine. And then I felt duct tape being stretched around my mouth. I moved my face around violently, my mouth was my one recourse and I couldn’t allow him (or them) to take that away from me. Once he succeeded in getting the tape around my mouth, it was just one cock after another. The tears never did stop flowing.

I have no idea how many men I was fucked by that night. I have no idea when I stopped fighting them and just lay back and succumbed to them completely. I have no idea whether I was still being fucked when I passed out.
I just know that when I woke up the next morning I was lying naked and untied in the forest, covered from head to toe in dried semen with a note taped to my chest.
My eyes, puffy and swollen, hadn’t fully readjusted to the light as I pulled the note off my chest and read it.
Thank you, my dear, you were great.

The Anatomy of a Nightmare.

I know every inch of the place.
Well, I have always known it like the back of my hand. Now, I know it better, better than the back of my hand.
I know it like I know my mind.
It terrifies, attracts and humbles me all at once.

I know the wooden door at the entrance.
The only part of the arena that didn’t look rundown because it opens into the main house. Four light brown frames and a bronze handle.
The paint still shining. Perhaps it had received a fresh coat of varnish of late.
I remembered it as the place I looked for the moment I entered that house. My good sense telling me it wasn’t just going to disappear, but the relief upon seeing it each time, still there, defied all sense.
I remember it now as the moment of truth and conflict. The time when my mind screamed, “Flee! You don’t know what the fuck you’re getting yourself into.”
But my feet remained firmly planted in place; obeying only his gesture to descend into the darkness.

I know there are exactly thirteen stairs coming down from the door. Uneven in width.
I slipped on the seventh on the way down when I decided the only way to avoid sleep would be to run up and down the stairs to get some exercise.
I hurt my back. Only a little because the once-sharp stone edges of the stairs been rubbed off due to wear over the years.
He found me on the bottom stair; refusing to look back at him as I held my breath even though I could hear him, clear as day, coming down the stairs.
That bottom step where I have sat and smoked pot a multitude of times is now forever etched in my head as the place where the hair on my neck all stood up.
In terror.
And, arousal.

I know that bed. It’s not a bed really.
Just an old foam mattress from when my little sisters and I would play cards down there. I know the bed now as an instrument of mockery.
I never got to sleep on it.
No, I spent my nights on the floor, sleeping atop a thick bedcover that neither kept the cold from seeping into my naked back nor provided any kind of support.
I remember that bed now as the object responsible for all my aches. It was right there in front of me, no one could have stopped me from just lying on it for a few minutes to remember what comfort feels like but I didn’t. He camps deep inside my head.

I know the storage room in the back.
The white metal door rusted beyond all belief; the paint chipped off in most places and the blue lines that once decorated it reduced to mere aberrations in its now perfectly desecrated self.
The tiny room.
The roof still leaning like it always did. The walls; cracked and faded. As if the whole structure could collapse at any moment.
I remembered hiding in there with my sister; eating the pecans that were stored in the giant blue plastic containers. Our jaws sore from cracking the nuts open.
The room still smelled of pecans then, a few still lying strewn about at the bottom of those neglected containers that no one needed any more.
I remember it now as a chamber of suffocation and solitary confinement. A place where the only thoughts on my mind were of Florida prisons and building collapses.

I know the book shelf.
The books are all gone, of course. But I can always see them, as if I could ever forget the volumes upon volumes of psychology and economics textbooks that always left me with more questions than answers when I indulged myself.
It became my place of solace. I would sit under the shelf hoping it doesn’t fall on my head and kill me. I could still smell the books; the scent transporting me to a time when I had not a care in the world. A time when if I wanted to get up in the middle of reading The Rise and Fall of the third Reich and get myself a cup of coffee, all I had to do was turn the door knob.
Even though that was no place to hide, it’s in plain sight the moment you enter through the door, it was there I decided to hide. He could rape me all he wanted in that corner, he still couldn’t touch me.
Or so I believed. Had to believe.

I know my grandfather’s old study desk.
I remembered it as the place where we’d sit and he’d teach me about the Indian Education System, RAW, the Naxalites and atheists while the rest of our family bathed in the winter sunshine.
The wood was now merely a mass of splinters. It was softer too and fluffy. I’m sure there was some water damage.
I remember it now as the symbol of my paranoia. The object that transported me to an archaic period in time where I was convinced that my death certificate would read:
Cause of Death: Splinter

I know the bathroom.
Small, white tiles, no sink. Two taps and old-school plumbing. One golden faucet for the fresh, cold water and one silver faucet that was attached to the water heater that had only been installed because my grandmother was certain I would trip and break my neck carrying hot water down the stairs.
No one ever understood why I liked bathing in there.
The heater was long gone, my grandparents must have taken in with them when they moved out.
As if in cahoots with my captor.
Now that bathroom is a reminder of the privileges I enjoy in life, and the guilt I ought to feel for being so indifferent to my entitlement.
Sanitation. Water. Warmth. Comfort. Freedom.

I know the place, as I said.
I know every inch of it more intimately than I have known the bodies of myriad lovers.
Congratulate me now, for I have successfully converted my sanctuary into a minefield of nightmares.
(And isn’t that what every little girl grows up dreaming of?)

What I Knew To Be The Night

Note: I have a secret, part 1

……

Somewhere between sleep paralysis and a nightmare, I struggled to open my eyes and breathe.
Over the years I had come up with a process to get out of this situation: The one sharp shock process. Summon all the strength my breathlessness will allow and jerk any part of my body alive, as a result my eyes will fly open and finally, I will be able to breathe.
But before I could do any of that, I must have slipped back into unconsciousness because the next thing I remember is waking up (my body somehow still asleep), still unable to move and still unable to breathe.
It could have been hours later or it could have been minutes. I still have no idea. All I knew then was that I had to get out.
Inside my head, I tried to talk down my panic.
All you have to do is jerk your ankle, don’t slip back in..fight it, stay awake..you know what this is, you know how to get out of it….
I went on and on talking until, suddenly, it moved.
My foot.
My eyelids threw themselves open and I gasped.
With a sentiment that can only be described as greed, I took in as much air as my lungs could hold.
Once my head knew I wasn’t dying I was left free to discover that though my eyes were open, I couldn’t see a thing. It was darker than it had been with my eyes shut. It’s a special kind of darkness, the kind city-dwellers rarely get to appreciate.
And I knew my eyes were open. All my energy, every last bit of it was going into keeping them open. I knew what would happen if I rested them even for a second.
I would fall back in.
Right back into the terrifying mess that I was unsure I could escape from multiple times that night.
I had to get up. I needed to turn the lights on and splash some water on my face.
I tried to fold my knee and lunge forward.
But I couldn’t, I could not get up. In fact, I was being pulled back.
I knew I was awake and the movements of my body weren’t part of the visions my brain created to make me believe I was actually moving during paralysis.
I knew for sure, I was moving.
The shock of the confusion was enough to jolt me back to clear consciousness.
I wasn’t home.
No.
The actual nightmare was nowhere close to over.

I got back into my sleeping position, I probably hadn’t moved that much anyway. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t felt the cuffs around my wrists or heard the chain attaching them to the handle of the back door until then. Or wondered (even despite all my preoccupation with dying) why I was sleeping with my arms outstretched over my head.
My eyelids grew heavy again; all those thoughts together were exhausting.
I really needed to stay awake but I could feel myself falling. I caught myself each time the top lid so much as touched down on the bottom. I shook my head violently each time it happened.
But it wasn’t working. I knew it wasn’t working.
I let myself drown.

This time I know I woke up just a few seconds later with the undeniable urge to scream.
I couldn’t fight it, and in my heart, I really and truly believed I was screaming my lungs out.
I wasn’t, of course.
My head knew I couldn’t even open my mouth, let alone scream out for help.
By now, my head knew that even if I did, there may be no one up there to hear me screaming.
As the breathlessness came back, fervent and unforgiving, even the silent screaming let up. Not the desire to scream though.
And then I convulsed.
With one sharp shock my arms jerked above my head. The slight slack in the chain allowed it to clang against the floor and rusty metal door. The sound woke me up more than the movement.
I could breathe.
But I was parched. Even if there was any water around, I couldn’t reach it.
Yet, the desperate are optimistic.
I moved my entire body the few inches that I could in the hope that I would bump against a dish of water. Even if it was for birds or dogs or rats, I would drink any water I could find within a few inches of me. Just, if I could find some water, everything would be better.
I didn’t.
I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed. Angered, even.
I banged my wrists against the floor and the sounds of the metal echoed back and forth, then back again.
I had hurt my knuckles.
It felt good, it was waking me up.
It no longer took all of me to keep my eyes open.
But I needed to stay awake. I needed to pursue that goal as if it were the only thing that mattered. Just as well, because as it stood back then, it was the only thing that mattered.

I made a little game out of keeping myself up; I played the chain (using my wrists and arms) as an instrument to see if I could in any way make the melody sound like the song I was singing.
At first my voice was stuck in my throat, the only sound coming out of the blackness was metal gingerly colliding into the door.
I cleared my throat. Given how parched I was, there was no clearing my throat.
I licked my lips, there wasn’t all that much saliva to speak of but I swear, it helped.
I sang.
At first, only in whispers.
Happy hours
Golden showers
On a cruise to freak you out
I’m no good at playing any instrument, let alone improvising an instrument so my apologies to Garbage (and Cash, CoF and I think, Nirvana) but at least the singer in me was gaining confidence. A slight voice that even kind of sounded like me broke out of my throat as I sang further.
Entertain you
Celebrate you
I’ll be back to frame you
My head was in a happy place, back in the Karaoke bar in Goa where I was hopping around in salty air, free and unchained, singing the song that never failed to make me happy. My back up played and I sang, just like that carefree young girl sang as she inhaled tequila…
When I grow up, I’ll be stable
When I grow up, I’ll turn the tables

On Anger.

The truth is, I can be rather obsessive.
Fortunately, most of my obsessions are short (and thoroughly) lived. Some however, I am destined to bear for the rest of my life.
My greatest obsession has remained the same for about a decade.
Anger.
In the context of relationships.
A-N-G-E-R.
Fear turned inwards. Dangerous. Loss of control. Weak. Wrong. Abusive. Disrespectful.
Just some of the things I hear almost every time I bring up the concept. Perhaps they are all true. Perhaps.

Here, in our world, there are few things we absolutely abhor. Few things that threaten the foundations of the pillars on which the precarious balance of our complicated relationships rests. But I find, most of us tend to agree, anger is bad.
The number of times I have heard tops, doms and sadists (TDSs, ha) say things like, “I would never strike anyone in anger,” is more than the number of men I’ve been with.
I believe you. You wouldn’t strike anyone in anger. Well done. But forgive me, I am preconditioned to taking things apart.

Let’s just state, right off the bat that despite all the safewords and protocols we may have in place, there are relatively few boundaries in our relationships. We can negotiate scenes and even guidelines for relationships but the living reality of relationships is more fluid than that. We cannot spend our lives negotiating and renegotiating. Unless you have a proclivity to legal principle or a serious contract fetish, it’s tedious.
In any other relationship, striking someone in anger seems plain wrong. But here where we routinely strike each other out of love, respect, disappointment, need, desire, arousal; is anger just as great a departure from right? But more than that, given that we’re so conditioned to the gestures of violence, that a momentary loss of judgment should lead to what we call abuse is not so farfetched. It’s plausible. To me, it is even understandable. It’s baffling that I don’t hear about it more often.

Then there is the issue I take most issue with.
The loss of control.
I see this as a heinous double standard. Sure, in some of our relationships there is the partner(s) that assumes control, and the one who relinquishes control. But the physical representation of of these relationships? When there are endorphins flowing, adrenaline rushing and pleasure dominating the entire scene. Who is in control then?
Aren’t sexual arousal and activity inherently designed for the complete and total abandonment of control? Then why is it that on the one hand there is loss of control we relish, while the other we deem plain wrong?
The lack of control is the same.
The things I do out of mind-numbing arousal and anger are the same, in expression and intensity.
Scratch. Bite. Strike.
Ribs have been cracked. Noses have bled. Scars created. Vaginas traumatized.
All of this, with and without anger as the motivating emotion. How have we decided then that violence borne out of anger is so much more dangerous than violence in the quest of pleasure? I had undergone more physical trauma chasing pleasure than I have as a victim of anger.

Perhaps then the issue is not as much physical, as it is emotional. Anger is scary. It is terrifying. Things are said, threats are launched; unspeakable becomes the order of the day.
I (at least) enjoy being scared; resisting and succumbing. And while that can be accomplished devoid of the anger, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that anger is the most effective path to that end. It’s almost the same with emotionally scarring talk. Minus the anger, I enjoy a good amount of verbal abuse. I know a lot of us do. My vagina doesn’t know how to make the differentiation between various kinds of emotional motivations. It doesn’t care if the harsh words are being spoken with careful deliberation or primal Id-centered debilitation. The effect is the same.

We seem to associate the idea of angry assaults with loss of love and care.
“If s/he loves me, they wouldn’t want to break me.”
But the possibility of breakage is just as real even when we take all the physical and emotional precautions we might. In fact, I often feel we desire it. It’s hard to fall apart all on your own, so much easier when someone window-dresses it and does it for you.
We seem to associate anger with nonconsent as well. Technicalities and consenual nonconsent aside, we still violate consent all the time in our relationships. We dress it up in pretty names, but that is what we do.
Do it for me.
Push limits
Try it once.
If not that, both giver and receiver, can get carried away in the moment. I know because I have.
We also seem to associate anger with weakness.
Perhaps it is. At least as much weakness as giving into any overwhelming feeling is. But be true to yourself, they say all the time. What we feel and think is who we are; so if I feel angry and do not express it, does that make me strong? Or just moral? Does going with it (because I may be inclined to be true to my feelings) make me weak? And what if my natural method of expressing anger is physical violence? If it is all I know, am I still weak for being me?

I don’t think or espouse that anyone should be aroused by anger. I don’t even think it is something I would rally behind for us to be more accepting of. I know it turns me the fuck on.
Anger, in itself, conceptually and emotionally, is extremely attractive to me.
So I wonder, can I consent to being a victim of anger? And given that I do, does that nullify my right to call myself a victim? I know that I believe that even if a victim of rape displays physical signs of having enjoyed the rape, I still consider that an act of sexual violence and consent violation. Does the same principle apply here then? Regardless of whether I enjoy it or not, I am being abused?
I confess that the emotional ramifications of anything that feels like abuse (which is a hard deduction to make in itself) are neither joyous nor pleasant but I cannot deny that they are stimulating.
Does that make me an abuse victim convinced that violence is the only manifestation of love? Or a self-aware individual with a tendency to damn the consequences when in the pursuit of desire?
I have been trying to answer these questions for a decade. I’m not closer today than I was at 14, 17 or 20.

I usually measure notions I have about right and wrong (as we all do) based on any guilt i may feel (for partaking). At the same time I am not immune to social conditioning. The dangers and the downward spiral on the path to rage (both as victim and perpetrator) have been hammered into me.
Therefore, the truth is, the only guilt I feel on the issue stems from the fact that I feel no guilt about relishing and chasing anger.

Still.
Perhaps it is kryptonite.
Perhaps it is my kryptonite.

I Do.

Note: Fiction

Therapy is not my thing.
Twice I have tried it with two different people. The first one seemed more like a faith healer than a trained professional. The second one felt like she had a barrier around her. As hard as I tried, I could not connect with her.
After that I gave up, I chose the path of excising my demons on my own. That didn’t work too well either. Six months into DIY mental health I had lost 10 kgs, I wasn’t eating, I was sleeping no more than two hours a night and I could not even imagine being in a relationship with a man.
And then the anxiety attacks started. At first I could not even identify the feeling. I had never felt anything like it before. It felt like my larynx was being crushed while something heavy settled on my chest. I would curl up in a ball and clutch at myself. That was the only thing that helped me feel better.
A week into the anxiety attacks, I knew it was time to get help.
So I did.
Moran Letcher.
He was suggested to me by my gynaecologist. Strange place to get a recommendation, maybe, but by this point in my life I had alienated everyone I didn’t have to pay to keep around.
I made an appointment and then I made myself go.

The first thing that struck me when I saw him was how young he looked. Based on the plaid sofas, the 90-year old secretary and old-school filing system I thought I was going to be seen by a 60-year old man.
But Moran Letcher wasn’t 60, at most he was 40. He was lean, and dressed in jeans and a white shirt. And loafers.
He smiled as I walked into his office. The smile lit up his entire wrinkle-free face; except his eyes.
I’d imagine it’s not easy to soulfully smile at hordes of patients on a daily basis.
His office was set-up like a living room. The couches were green and the carpets were brown. For some reason those colours went together. There was no desk, just a few shelves full of books.
“Sit down,” he said as I entered and returned his smile, “I’m Moran Letcher.”
“Hi, Mr.Letcher,” I responded, “I’m Emily Low.”
“Please, call me Moran, Emily,” he said leaning in.
We introduced ourselves and almost immediately I started talking. I told him about the anxiety and the sudden onset of depression. He asked why I hadn’t gotten help earlier and I told him about the other therapists.
We talked about everything I was feeling (and not feeling) without the question of a root-cause coming up.
Talking to him was easy, even about the gnawing discomfort of loneliness. He even seemed to understand when I told him that I didn’t feel at home in my body.
For fifty minutes I talked without realizing it had been so long. Right before he reminded me that it was time to go he said, “Whatever happened eight months ago, you have it in you to get past it.” It sounded like he genuinely had faith in me.
That alone encouraged me to book the next appointment. I could tell he knew where I was coming from. What I was coming from.

I saw him again three days later. He noticed I had made a little more effort into getting dressed than I had the last time.
“You look pretty,” he said.
That time we talked about growing up and my childhood. I told him about the town I had grown up in. My working-class father whom I’d always felt great discomfort around. My perfect mother who always did what people needed without considering her own desires. My elder sister with whom the rivalry had taken over the bonding many years ago. My younger brother who had lost both his legs in a drunken accident.
Even though any issues I had ever had with my family stood resolved, it was cathartic to talk to him about these things.
We didn’t talk about what he had hinted at last time, I suspected he wanted me to bring it up myself when I was ready.

We went a few more sessions without it coming up. Even though all we had done was talk, as far as I was concerned no therapy had been applied to me, I had started to feel better. Looking back perhaps it was a result of me feeling like I had taken the responsibility to get myself help.
I had been seeing him a month when I finally felt comfortable enough to bring it up.
It was because of the nightmares.
I told him they had been intensifying for a week. Finally, he asked about the content of the nightmares.
It was always the same.
The dark street I was walking in after work. The van that swept past. The abject panic of being pulled in. The putrid, septic smell of a chemistry lab inside. The rough hands on my body. The screaming. The blood filling my mouth. The numbness.
By the time I had finished telling the story, I was in tears. He said only one thing, “It wasn’t just a nightmare, was it?”
“No.” I said, still sobbing.

The next time he saw me he was forceful.
He insisted that I had to talk about the things I had for long refused to mention.
He asked for details of the attack. Details I had never even discussed with myself. He wasn’t concerned with the fear or the panic, he asked about the sensations.
Not how it had made me feel, how it had felt. He made me remember; the words I had said to dissuade my attackers. He asked me to remove my emotional reactions to the act and focus on the physical reactions to it.
“Are you trying to ask me if I enjoyed it?” I asked suddenly realizing the angle he was taking.
“Did you?” he asked looking straight at my face.
“No,” I said vehemently, “I was raped, how can you ask if I enjoyed it?”

Over the next few days I thought about it a lot. I don’t know why. I started to do what I hadn’t been able to do in his office; I started to think of the physical acts involved in the attack.
I thought about the force.
I thought about being choked out.
I thought about the repeated blows to my face.
I thought about being penetrated by the dirty, diseased dicks of nameless monsters.
I thought about it so long, the sun would begin to set before I realized where the day had gone.
I gulped.
I remember a lot of guilty gulping.
I was scared to touch myself even though I knew just how wet I was because I did not want to confirm it.
I could not believe this could be true.

The guilt must have been apparent in me when I saw him again. He picked up on it seconds after I sat down.
“So you thought about it, huh?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I said refusing to look at him.
“Sweetheart,” he said suddenly standing before me and lifting my chin with his finger, “Who do you think you’re kidding? Me or you?”
I felt angry. For a brief moment, I wanted to attack him. Instead, I shouted. I accused him of putting the idea in my head. He sat silently and listened to me lash out at him. When I was done screaming he told me to go home and listen to my body if I didn’t want to listen to him.
So, I went home. I ignored the rest of his suggestion and did some baking instead. I baked cookies of distraction; tweaking the recipe for each fresh batch as if identifying the moments when thoughts of dirty men and forced penetration started to appear. The faster the thoughts continued to appear, the more cookies I baked.
I felt the anger coming back as I beat nutmeg into the batter for my tenth batch. I threw the bowl on the kitchen floor.
It wasn’t enough.
I threw all the cookies, I threw the knives, I threw the bowls, I threw everything I could reach off the counters and onto the walls.
It wasn’t enough.
So I hit myself. I pulled my hair and flung myself against the floor. I beat my hands and fists into the ground. I screamed.
Somehow I ended up in tears, with my hand inside my panties and thoughts of violation on my mind as I came violently on the kitchen floor, over and over again.

The morning after that I was ready to acknowledge I had a problem. I called Letcher and let him know I needed to schedule an urgent session. He told me I could come in at lunch.
“You don’t look good,” he said when he saw me that afternoon.
“I know,” I told him.
We sat in silence for a few minutes and then almost irritably, I started talking.
“You were right,” I told him, “For some reason my body seems to appreciate all that my heart loathes.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Last night,” I started in what I think is a matter-of-fact tone, “I destroyed my kitchen and masturbated to rape.”
“Good,” he said coming over and holding my hand, “Now the healing can begin.”
He prescribed a mild sedative and an antidepressant and told me to go straight home after filling the prescription and get some sleep.
I was glad for the opportunity to have someone else do my thinking for me, so I did exactly as I was told to do.

That night was the first time in a long time I got to REM. I wasn’t shaken out of it by a nightmare or hallucinations.
No, it was a completely different thing that lulled me out this time.
The doorbell.
I awoke startled and looked at my watch.
11 PM.
Objectively it wasn’t very late but it was certainly past time anyone would visit me. I put on my robe and ran to the door fearing an emergency. More sleep in my steps than mindfulness.
I unthinkingly flung the door open and was horrified to see him standing there.
“What are you doing here?” I asked wondering if it was possible he had cared enough to feel the need to check up on me.
He didn’t say anything.
He just punched me straight in the jaw. I screamed before I fell to the floor.
He closed the door behind him before dragging me by the hair to the living room. I waited for the panic that never came.
He held me by the throat against the floor and began to rip off my clothes. I kept telling myself to fight him, and I kept telling myself the medication was keeping me from doing it, but really fighting him wasn’t what my body wanted to do.
Still in what I now believe was false modesty, I kept my legs firmly closed as he pushed against them with his knees.
“What are you doing?” I asked in a hopeless whisper directed more at myself than anyone else.
“Healing you,” he said before plunging deep inside me with one inconsiderate thrust.

He didn’t leave immediately after. By the time he was done i had drifted into unconsciousness. I woke up naked and aching on the couch to see him staring at me.
“Water,” I said staring at his smile. This time his eyes were smiling too.
He brought me water and sat right next to me on the couch.
He ran his fingers gently through my hair and kissed my forehead.
“You really do love rape, don’t you?” he asked.
I looked at him at least as hard as I looked inside myself before I said, “I do.”

The Monster.

One thing has always been true of me. I have always searched for pain. I never stopped to think about whether that desire was wrong or where it came from, it was there and that was enough for me to want to pursue it.
Only, before I discovered the existence of the world that was held so precariously upon the pillars of safe, sane and consensual, I was out there in the world armed only with the knowledge of a teenager and my sexuality rummaging through the universe before me to find what I so desperately needed. I didn’t know then I even needed to get fucked, all I knew was that I needed someone to beat me up.
I found the path to what I was looking for, in anger. In what we would now call abuse.
As a child I had discovered that making people angry often convinces them to hit you. It was a simple discovery I made through observation. I also discovered that being in over your head in an emotional situation you are ill-equipped to handle causes people to anger more easily.
This was the knowledge I would later use (after a little experimentation) to decide that my best bet at finding a pain-delivery system would be to spend some time cultivating complicated, dysfunctional and ultimately abusive relationships with older (married) men.
The first two failed my litmus test. After a week or two of being together I would orchestrate a minor fight which would end in me asking the question, “Would you ever hit a woman?”
That’s the only way I knew of asking for pain.
They refused.
The third time’s the charm apparently. He told me he wasn’t proud of it but he sometimes hit his wife in fits of anger. He promised me he would never do that to me. Unfortunately, he did not know that he was challenging me.

From there began the most tumultuous relationship of my life. I had never before worked so hard to anger anyone. I didn’t actually know what ticks grown men off so I applied every strategy I had ever heard of; spontaneous breakdowns, incessant phone calls, wife threats, showing up unannounced and accusations of neglect.
I don’t know if one of them worked or if it was a concoction of them all that ultimately led him to a breaking point but one day as I stood half-crying and half-yelling in what I think was an excellent application of my theatre lessons, he snapped. He came at me like a vulture at its prey.
Until then I was completely convinced that I was in control of every aspect of that situation, just that no one needed to know that except me. It was a quick and harsh lesson; no one is in control when anger is.
There I was all of a sudden, resisting pain and begging to be let go. It might not have even been that is hurt so much, in fact, in the moment I barely felt the pain at all. Just heat radiating from every little bit of me he could reach. But I felt something I hadn’t counted on; I felt terrified.
That day was the first time we ever had sex. It was the first time I ever had sex with a man. By the time that episode of violence came to a close, I was hooked. Sitting alone on the floor before he returned to apologize for his behavior, I knew it wasn’t just about the pain anymore and all that discovery did, was make me laugh.

It would be a while until I met a man who showed me that I could have pain without anger from someone other than myself. This pain was different. In terms of feeling, it was purer. It was about a man doing what he enjoyed in order to facilitate what I enjoyed. It was transactional and the physical sensation (on account of not being masked by vast hosts of adrenaline) was deeper. It was exactly what I had always wanted before I had discovered the wonders of rage.
It satisfied me. Yes, it did. And that is what I told myself then. Except it wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now either, by that time the resistance and the fear had carved out a need I didn’t know I would ever feel. Either every human being is born with a proclivity to violence or I created a monster. I wouldn’t be surprised at either answer.
I went a year without feeding it properly, satisfying it with scraps like petty fights and angry words. It was restless, and it was unable to see the monster in the man I loved. I’m not proud of it but at one point I even began to put on artificial resistance while being consensually beaten just because I was so tired of feeling un-abused.

Then one day over an issue that I would later use as ammunition to fuel a lot of anger, he lost his temper. I threw food at him. That’s his personal tick. Anger from a lover is a much scarier thing than others, is what I discovered. His rage was unstoppable and painful even in the moment. It was careless, and unconcerned with who was watching. It was unapologetic. It made me fear for my life unlike his pain which always made me feel cradled in safety. His monster was as big as mine and the moment they found each other, they became bigger than us.
It started off slowly and escalated like any good addiction from four times a year to four times a week over four years. It took a clichéd path; cracked ribs, concerned friends and too much concealer.
Then you ride a glorious high until the possibility of death stares you in the face and you come to the responsible standpoint that someone must leave and in one climactic moment a door closes and you believe you’ve freed yourself from the beast.

Except not really.
At least not for me. Or us.
As a result of our mid-relationship segue to “for-all-apparent-purposes” single life what we achieved has in no way managed to excise our individual monsters. He may use his temper sparingly and I may refrain from being intentionally instigative but we still fall together in moments of what should feel like weakness but carry no shame whatsoever.
I have to wonder if all being alone ever contributed to his process was the opportunity to erode any morality I may have left on the matter. I’m not sure how exactly it contributed to making us fit better. This much I know, with each passing day it becomes more clear to me, the girl who laughed like a maniac upon discovering terror isn’t going anywhere until she can take me along.

I am Cunt.

I refrain from talking about sex. Before anyone calls shenanigans, let me clarify. It comes up in stories, sometimes even in the form of explicit details. But the act of sex (penis in vagina sex) as subject, I rarely talk about that. I have a reason, I don’t think I can do it justice unless I am fucking and writing at the same time.
In hindsight, any words I may use to describe it feel like euphemisms, metaphors and failed attempts to beautify an ineffable act of massively degenerate proportions. This morning, however, I woke up with this need to talk about sex.
Sex.
As it is.
Not as the coming together of two souls. Not the seamless dance of two bodies in apparent agony. When I am lying there short of breath and my legs spread as far as they’d go; I am not the verbose, articulate woman I am now.
He is cock. I am cunt.
Only cunt can sing the songs I cannot.

Only she can explain the pain. That specific brand of ache that anyone who has taken a cock can relate to. The pain that has the power to turn anyone into a masochist. We share that pain; knowledge of it binds us all together. Each thrust, coming forth with a decided beat.
Pain. Stretch. Pain. Pleasure. Repeat.
Designed to make me want another. And another. And then another.

Only she can talk about the longing. Longing is such a beautiful word but this longing is no beautiful thing. It’s almost ironic that I should use the word to describe it. It’s desperate and shameless in its quest to consume. It is needy; it asks for specific acts of depravity with feigned modesty. It begs. It says things I wouldn’t say in my right mind.
Rape me. Take me. Fuck me till I cannot walk anymore. Let me be your whore.

Only she understands the violence. For I live in the strata where I deign to call sex a beautiful act, she calls it like it is.
The instinctive abuse of the flesh of one another. The destructive need that lunges forward like an uncontrollable beast only to diminish on its own time.
The nails. The biting. The breathlessness. The slapping. The localized assault. The heartrate. The insanity.
The obvious quest to push each other closer and closer to death. La petite mort, the French call it for a reason.

Only she can appreciate the abandon. Not just a drunken lowering of inhibitions; the complete abandonment of notions of right-wrong, black-white, shame, fear, insecurity. Anything that gets in the way of what she needs. The single-minded focus that overtakes everything in the quest of the myriad variables that all add up to pleasure.

Only she knows the dirt, smut and mess. Washed up I walk in the streets but she revels in the indifference of all that is dirty.
The dried blood under the lip. Drool dripping down the jaw. Spit. Juices flowing around in every direction; on fingers, in hair, in the mouth.
The feel of man and woman; sticky, wet and bodily. The scent of man and woman; unpleasantly pleasant.
Male and female, in all their guttural glory.

Only she knows how the music of sex is created. Not through the careful deliberation of a concert pianist.
The gasping. The moaning. The screaming. The begging.
They all originate in an artless place. In impulse, stimulus and reflex. Reactions so honest that it feels wrong when I try to recreate them sans the sentiment.

I say these words.
Temptation. Pleasure. Agony. Violence. Assault. Sex. Need. Desire. Urgency. Mess. Dirt. Satisfaction. Abandonment. Inhibitions. Ache. Longing. Shame. Depravity. Guttural. Pain. Consumption.
But she, she understands them.
She understands that when we fuck, we don’t share the highest of us; we share the lowest.
And that really is the hardest thing to share.

The hand that rocks the cradle.

The lady who lives on the ground floor is a malicious gossip. She runs a tiny little salon and hires young girls for shameful salaries under the pretence of teaching them the tricks of the trade. Most of her girls would stay a few months before seeking work elsewhere, I never got to know any of them, until Aarti showed up.
I heard about Aarti before I met her. I was at the salon to have my eyebrows shaped and the lady was talking to one of her regular customers about “the new girl”.
“She ran away from her house with her boyfriend when she was 14,” she said breathlessly, the sad reality of this being her source of excitement was quite apparent, “They got married, had a child and now he has passed on. She’s only 21. She’s going around everywhere desperately looking for work… I thought I should help.”
“You are nice person,” her friend responded, “No one is as helpful these days. These girls today don’t understand, this is what happens when you do what you want and run after love.”
This eventually devolved into a conversation about all the single women who live in my neighborhood and all the shameful activities we partake in.
I paid and left.
A few weeks later, my mother was visiting. Being the highly social creature that she is, while I was at work, she took the opportunity to mingle with the people in my building. It annoys me, her lack of boundaries, but when it is directed at other people I find it rather, cute. In the evening, when I came home one such day, she asked me, “Is the salon lady crazy?”
I knew this would happen if they ever met, I couldn’t wait for it actually, and my mother isn’t as tolerant as me. If involved in gossip, she will not only retort but make sure she shuts it down.
“What happened?” I asked her.
“She’s telling me stories about the girl who works for her and her family,” she said looking sad, “She’s clever she dresses it up like she is so helpful in the scenario but all she does gossips. Has she no shame?”
“She does that with everyone mom,” I replied knowing this conversation would carry on well into the night, “Don’t let it bother you so much.”
“How can I not let it bother me?” she says now obviously angry with me, “She tried to talk to me about you! Dressed it up in concern but I knew she was really trying to tell me about the men you have over and all your late nights.”
“How does it matter? Especially since you already know all these things?” I asked her trying desperately to put an end to the inanity.
“Oh it matters, the audacity!” she said launching into full life-lecture mode, “She has no right to malign someone’s kids, let alone mine.”
“What did you do D?” I asked her realizing she had been building up to a revelation.
“I told her that if she ever tried to sneak on my kids again, she’d have to answer to me…” she started, “And, also, I got Aarti a much better paying job at an another salon.”
How had my mother gotten a semi-skilled worker a better job at a different salon in half a day?
No one needs to know.

That’s my mother; she gets things done.

……

He was a sloth of a man with the tongue of a charming sociopath. My mother’s boyfriend. The last of them. Almost a decade, they were together. He came into our lives and spent time at our house. I respected my mother’s right to love him, I had my reasons. For many years they were happy together, until one day, they weren’t.
That’s when the fighting started. They fought over their respective spouses and neglect. They fought over alleged emotional abuse. They broke up regularly and got back together suspiciously in the wee hours of the night.
One day, I came home late in the evening to find my mother’s door locked. I knocked and knocked but she wouldn’t open the door. I could hear her inside; crying and smashing things to bits.
Ultimately I dug up the spare key to her bedroom and opened the door myself.
Everything in her room that was once on shelves, tables, cupboards lay on the floor. She was sitting in the corner of the room; one hand bleeding and the other clutching a fistful of sedatives. I walked to her and took the pills from her.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“I am so helpless, I didn’t know what else do to,” she said showing me the hundreds of little cuts on her palm, “He comes, he goes… I don’t know.”
She alternately threw things and cried for another hour. The next day, they were back together.

That’s my mother; crazy in love.

……

My uncle (my mom’s brother) was a colourful and highly ambitious man. He had helped raise me when I was a child and my father wasn’t always around. The earliest memory I have of him is him teaching me to write the number 8. I have no idea why, but I refused to do it right. Or, more likely, I couldn’t do it right. He locked me out on the terrace until I learnt how to form the number 8 properly. It took me hours, I think. But when I finally did it he told me that is how much mother had taught him to form the number 8. He, apparently, had had just as much trouble with it as I did.
Many years later, I was in the 12th grade and I had just returned from my morning swim on a Sunday. My mother and I had been fighting, and I was sitting in the living room studying when the phone rang. She answered the phone. She talked in a worried tone.
“What has happened? Tell me,”she said urgently to whoever was on the other line. She dropped the phone and burst into tears. I ran over to her and asked what had happened. She told me in the midst of her emotional outburst, that her brother had died. Alone in a remote town while on a business trip.
She still managed to arrange to have his body sent to his home, we drove to the place and as my mother watched me make phone calls to the members of our family to tell them what had happened, I watched her break down completely. She didn’t want me to tell his wife (or daughter) until we got there. I had seen my mother sad, depressed, angry, on the precipice of insanity but I had never seen her grief-stricken like that. Three times we stopped on the way because she was crying so violently, she physically couldn’t contain herself to the car. It scared my sister into silence.
When we got there, and she told his wife, she collapsed onto the floor and remained there for an hour. Late at night the body was delivered to the house and we laid it on a slab of ice in the living room. My mother and I slept in that room that night. She hugged me and cried silently all night.
The next day, after we cremated him, she came to me and said, “Aal is my daughter too now, she’s your sister and B (his wife) is my brother.” I know people say such things in the grips of grief, but within the one month she spent in their home she arranged for them to move into our house, she got Aal mid-session admission into the best school in the city and almost instantaneously, we all began to call the same place home.
She loves everyone in his family in the insane, over-zealous and sometimes emotionally abusive manner in which she loves us all.

That’s my mother; emotional, compassionate and determined.

……

“I’m going to kill that crazy man,” she said one hot afternoon storming into the house.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. She had been in court that morning. No she isn’t a felon, though she has always said it is her lifelong dream to be a smuggler, but there was a technical issue with the renewal of my sister’s passport that required her to get a stamp from a judge on a piece of paper proving..something.
Right behind her, strode in one of her friends she had taken to court with her, she said, “Your mother almost got arrested in court for insulting the judge today.”
“I gave them all the documents they asked for,” she started still fuming, “And this crazy man kept telling me to prove my daughter is my daughter. She’s my bloody daughter.”
“It’s a legal thing, mom,” I said, “It’s not emotional or personal.”
“You shut up,” she said, “Some peon or lawyer told me later that if I want to get my paper signed I should pay this much money and it’ll be done. That is when I got pissed.”
“And she stormed into his courtroom and told him that she would not pay him instead she would expose his dirty misdeeds and he will damn well sign her paper without being paid,” said her friend.
“I said that privately, I didn’t shout or scream and he did stamp the paper,” she justified, “Still he told me to leave or else he’ll have to have me arrested. He was scared.”
I’ll give her this; she really did try to have him exposed. She even befriended judges and lawyers in her quest, but such is the judicial system that you have to be damn sure before you start messing with it.

That’s my mother; brazen and goal-oriented, but not always quite the finisher.

…..

She hates the psychotherapist; but has no problem with the psychiatrist. He’s got the good stuff. The good stuff she’s been inhaling since she was about, 32. Genetic predisposition to depressive behavior is what he told her finally enabling her to gorge on the antidepressants and sedatives to the point where they served no purpose but to feed her addiction. They didn’t lift her out of a pit of anything, but they definitely exposed her monster.
“Your mother is crazy,” my father said one day as I came back from tennis and they were having at it in the living room, “She wants to leave, please talk to her.”
In my family, we don’t stop fighting, we just transfer the fight from person to person. I went to her and asked what had happened. She launched into the familiar tirade of accusations levied upon each one of us for destroying her life.
She concluded that she had been blamed for everything wrong that happened in the family, and insulted by each one of us on myriad separate occasions. There was no talking to her in that state. She launched into silent treatment mode as she sat crying on the couch clutching her purse. She got up and started to pack her suitcase; we all knew she wasn’t going to leave but she liked the threat hanging over our head all the same.
My father begged her not to leave and I gave her my well-worn speech about how much she mattered and how much we all valued her. She screamed and hurled abuses at us. We all knew we were playing parts, yet, we were all determined to play them to the end. Hurt each other as much as we could in the process. Finally, she decided to stay (based on certain conditions, of course). For the next week or so, everyone was scared to cross her path and getting her way was as easy as she liked it. The next week, we would repeat our pattern all over again. That’s why she kept her suitcase in her bedroom.

That’s my mother; emotionally manipulative and often unstable.

…..

I have always seen her, over the years; I have come to understand her. Sometimes, I am able to remove my biases and objectively appreciate her for the amazing person she is. Others, I wish I was still estranged from her and free of the emotional baggage that came with the relationship.
Still, I know that on those dark days when I feel that the world is consuming me and the walls are closing around me, she’ll be there.

I can call her anytime and she’ll come running to my door and I’ll have her unconditional support until I need it.
That’s my mother.
But I never do.
That’s me.
…..

Expect to be disturbed.

Two men; holding my arms apart in a dirty alley. My clothes are torn; ripped to unfixable shreds. A third man walks up to me as I scream, thrash and try to get away.
His fist on my face; hot pain. Over and over he punches me as I fall to the ground and the blood from my nose starts to pool on the concrete. He kicks me in my stomach and hip as I lie on the ground struggling to breathe and stay awake. He pushes me onto my back and makes a crushing motion over my face with his boot before I fade to unconsciousness. Silent tears still flowing.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

A little cubicle; barely enough room for me to stand up straight. Thousands of little red ants crawling on the walls. Climbing onto my legs and my arms and my stomach and every surface of me they can reach. Unbearable stinging. I squash at their tiny bodies until hundreds of them lie dead on the floor of the tiny space. I scream as more parts of my body require my attention than I have fingers. I drop down on the floor to whatever extent that I can and break down. The stinging prevents me from finding any kind of calm, peace or serenity for a moment.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

The magic pill begins to have effect as they lower me onto my back and tie my hands and legs apart. Hundreds of men, dirty and unworthy, line up before my naked body as I struggle against the drowsiness. Faint snippets of unrelenting thrusts into my orifices are all I remember. Too helpless to do anything about it; just aware enough to stop feeling completely. Everything fades except the ache and the stench.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

There are needles. Dozens of them shoved between my nails and my fingers. Dozen others shoved between my toes and my toenails. He lowers me into a wooden box; just big enough for me to lie perfectly still with my arms on my sides. More needles in my breasts and thighs and arms and neck. He digs a hole in the ground and all I can do is lie perfectly still as I hear him dig. He puts a lid over the box that holds me and lowers me into the pit. Darkness and fear and pain; that’s all the things that remain. I hear the soil poured over me as I try not to move.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

He ties me to a tree; arms spread out to hang from the roots and legs freely moving about, still with no place to go. He attacks me with a flogger with little blades tied to the ends. Each strike more unforgiving and unbearable than the last. He laughs because he doesn’t know who I am and is concerned only with my suffering. All I can see is red; all I can feel is red. It doesn’t last long; how could it? His hands covered in my blood squeezing at my throat until nothing remains.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

I lie on the wooden floor with my palms nailed into the ground. He kneels at my feet smiling as he menacingly shows the pliers to me. He holds the toenail of my little toe between them and tugs. I scream in anticipation; he tugs again. I close my eyes and he pulls. Searing discomfort as he pulls again before I have even had the time to recover from the first. He puts the pliers around the nail in the big toe and pulls it out in one go. Tears flow as if someone opened a faucet at its maximum capacity.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself wanting.

He pushes me onto our bed and comes at me with his belt. He beats me until I am blue and red and purple. He bends me over the floor and takes me without warning or foreplay. He ties me up in the back of his van and beats me with wires while we are parked outside his building. He comes at me with his knife and cuts me just deep enough to not cause damage. He dunks my head in a bucket and slaps me each time he brings me up for air. He throws me against the wall and bites until his mouth his bloody. Then he tells me he loves me and holds me in his arms.
That’s the kind of pain I find myself taking.

Because quite frankly, it’s all the same, isn’t it?
It’s all just masochism.

I’ll just keep telling myself that.

Understanding “whore”

I have what can be referred to as an unnatural fascination with whores. To be clear when I say whores I mean prostitutes; women who sell sexual access to their bodies for payment. I don’t see this as an unrespectable profession. From the kothas of the once illustrious Hira Mandi to the modern day dial-an-escort services, I see it all as one of the highest forms of art. And if I can respectfully sell my writing for a living, I see no reason why their art should have a lower standing than mine.

I saw my first whore out in the real world when I was 12 or 13. The town where I grew up had an area (like all towns) where one might go to procure a whore. Incidentally, this area was near the bus stand. So late one night I was out with my mother and sister to enjoy the delicious treats that were available in those streets after midnight (I mean food, not hookers, you pervs), I saw her.
A young woman; maybe 25 years old. She was carrying a red leather bag that was slung across her chest. It went nicely with her tight white t-shirt and blue denim skirt. The clincher was the mile-high patent leather heels that she wore. She looked more beautiful than the thousands of dolled up women I had seen in my town.
It was strange to me then, to see a lone woman out in the streets at that hour, yet she looked self-assured enough to seem perfectly safe. My mother nudged me and pointed in her direction.
“She’s a prostitute,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“It’s a look,” she said, “I just know.”
To me it seemed, if there is a look, it must be confidence.
As we ate our paranthas sitting in the car on the side of the road, I couldn’t stop looking at her. I watched her laugh and get into a white sedan. It was amazing, this kind of liberty. All my life I had been told I must be careful in the dark; I must not get into cars with boys and here she was. Just because she was willing to sell what the whole world feared would be taken from me by force, she was able to do anything.

By the time I was fifteen, my mind was made up. At some point, I would have to be a whore. Not only had I continued to ascribe to the theory of liberty but owing to all the literature available I saw the concept of whores as aesthetically pleasing. Their worlds seemed magical to me. As did their sex lives. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually believe the men they fucked were good in bed or even cared about their satisfaction. But I was sure of one thing; the objectification they experienced would be unparalleled in any relationship and that was the element of their sex lives that I wanted. Yet, I was a fifteen year old girl who did not have a clue as to how to get involved in a ring of prostitutes nor the courage to do it. So I settled for the next best thing. I let my lover pass me around.
I will never forget the first time (or any time after, really)
The man he had sent me to was a “friend” of his; I was to tell him I was an eighteen-year old woman. That was also the first time I ever lied about my age. I had no idea how or where he had found this guy, no clue as to what he had told him about me, no idea what he would do to me.
I just knew what I was to do.
Dress in feminine clothing.
Knock on the door and introduce myself (with a name and backstory that had been provided to me).
Turn to stone.
Let him fuck me.
Ask him to pay me.
Leave in an hour.
He dropped me off at his house and told me to call him if I felt unsafe. For an instant, I considered just backing out from the whole thing and just sticking to admiring whores from a distance for the rest of my life.
But I got out of the car and walked on without looking back. “Turn to stone,” I kept telling myself, “Turn to stone.” I was afraid and nervous, but all I had to do was hide it.

When I saw him, I realized there was no way I could be sexually attracted to this man. He smelled of sweat and whiskey. He was short, puny and extremely hairy. His wrists were covered in religious threads and his fingers in birthstones and other crystals. He said his name was Manish, I have no more reason to believe that now than I did then. After all, my name is not Parvati.
Soon enough, I noticed something very interesting, he seemed more nervous than I was. That made me feel more confident, all of a sudden, it was clear what I had to do.
I had to perform.
That came very naturally to me given I had been on stage since I was a toddler, so I found a character. Parvati, the seasoned whore who had myriad man-seducing tricks up her nonexistent sleeves. I liked the way he looked at me; like meat. I enjoyed how he licked his lips when I pushed my breasts forward and played with my hair. I inched closer to him and put my hands on his lap. I could feel it coming; the sudden and only burst of confidence he would display that evening as he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards him.
After that, it was just sex. Instead of doing what came naturally (which in his case was retching), I mentally traveled through all the good sex I had had so far in life and reapplied the performance.
After we were done, he paid me even before I asked. He thanked me, I smirked and left. I walked out into the street. I walked for at least ten minutes before I called my lover. I felt great; the fear had dissipated and given way to a confident sense of superiority. Just for a second, I allowed myself the luxury of believing what I had done was hard and I could be proud of myself for going through with it.

This activity remained a regular and escalating fixture of our relationship for a few years. Somehow still despite the liberation and the sense of security I had garnered, I did not feel as commoditized as the whores in my fantasies. I did see the world of the whores but I did not understand it.
For this purpose, the first thing I did when I started college was to find and sign up to work with an organization that rehabilitated and facilitated the lives of whores (and in this case, drug addicts, mostly because the two often tend to intersect).
What I saw there was so very different from my conceptions of commercial sex work that I was ashamed of my naiveté. I had read stories about trafficking and forced sex work but I had continued to relate to even those as if the women involved had a sense of autonomy and eventual power. What I saw in my work was a lot different than what I thought I had seen in Kamathipura or glorious stories of G.B. Road. It was pain, destitution, disease, hopelessness, abandonment, immoral recourses, addiction, suicide, societal boycott, anger, depression; emotional damage so deeply seated it would rival the demontor’s kiss. It was real and gut-wrenching.
And despite all we thought we did to help; there was no way out. We did our best to provide a moment of solace, the illusion of legal protection, medical help, physical protection and counselling services but at night when we lay in our warm, safe beds these exploited women once again spread themselves out to make someone else money. The reality of the concept so deeply aesthetic me, much like everything else in the world, was corrupt.
Yet, it did not deter me. In fact, if anything, it made me more determined to fulfill my need to be a whore. It was like I had something to prove; I needed to show (myself) that a woman can want to be a whore on her own terms and even for her own pleasure. I just had to wait a while; I just had to wait until I was single. I needed my autonomy to be able to set myself up for exploitation. I needed to be responsible for myself to ensure this entire process didn’t end in counter-productivity.

Less than a year later, I was single. And I can tell you, I was ready. I had learnt everything I had to, I knew how to protect myself, I knew exactly what I wanted out of this endeavor; all that was left to do was find myself a “pimp” to work with.
So I contacted a whole bunch of “escort” services. The idea, for me, was to go to the cheapest one possible. One where my value would be lowered enough for me to monetarily feel almost worthless. A few of the cheap ones turned me away; perhaps they feared I was a cop or a reporter working on a story. I dumbed myself down, dressed myself up with the airs and graces that above all looked cheap and forged ahead in my quest to become a whore. Finally I came across a “college girls” service that was cheap and that i had a good feeling about. They too turned me away a few times, but I knew persistence would pay off.
Finally after five phone calls they agreed to meet me. After keeping me waiting in a dingy room for over an hour, I met the man who presumably ran (but did not own) the operation.
He walked around me. Taking me in. He asked me questions no one had ever asked before.
Why I wanted to sell myself for money?
When had I lost my virginity?
Whether I knew how to suck cock?
I gave the answers I had rehearsed, worried my real reasons would make me seem insane to these people.
He touched my breasts, my arms, my back and my ass. He put his hand between my legs. I blushed and looked down. He told me about rates, cuts, and availability. He told me about the rules with which his organization was run. He told me I would never be allowed to communicate with any of his other girls unless someone ordered two women together. Jealously was a real problem, I realized.
Later, he introduced me to the first of the few women I would ever meet in this endeavor. She was a brash, older woman. Everything about her was matter-of-fact; she felt it necessary to warn me against what I was planning to do. She told me this man would tell me that he would call me when he had work for me but really he wanted me to call him begging for work. She even gave me tips on how to dress.
I went home heady and ready. I knew this was my moment. I had to be a whore now or I would never do it again.

I started work.
Sexually speaking, it was delightful and disgusting. To this day, I can guarantee that I haven’t felt objectified the way I did then. These men I visited sometimes in the middle of the afternoon and sometimes in the middle of the night saw me as nothing more than a creative need-fulfillment mechanism and saw no need to pretend otherwise (at least until the needs had been fulfilled). I had fun with it, I created characters and sometimes (with the ones that really wanted to talk) invented stories that would seem ridiculous if I repeated them to one of you. I knew they wanted an opportunity to feel sorry for me, to know that some horrible incident or twist of fate had led me to their beds but I wasn’t interested in demeaning them any more than I was interested in being demeaned. No, this entire five-month phase of prostitution was about upliftment. I was a whore by choice, and the men (who I still believe couldn’t intellectually buy me with all their grey matter) were my respectable customers.
There were incidents that in hindsight seem unsafe, reckless and downright misguided but in the moment they were necessary. I needed to know that I cannot take a profession so tainted with exploitation and erase those smudges just by believing i was respectably spreading my legs for dozens of men.

The whores were there before me, and will continue to prevail long after I am gone. There will continue to be joy, misuse, exploitation, money and abuse. I wish I could help all the whores that needed it, but I cannot, I am not even sure if it is my place to offer help.
There was only one whore I knew for sure I could help: me.
And when I look back through the entire journey of realization, fear, nerves, sex, men, abuse, doubt, pain, exploitation and action, I only see clearly the thing I set out to achieve.
Liberty in objectification.