The no longer young (nearing thirty in 1979) man had come to Calcutta to study music, not to find a girlfriend. He was taking advantage of his company’s generous vacation and air travel benefits to devote a month to the study of an old style of singing, no longer in vogue, but still revered. His wife had returned to California after two months and two weeks in Saudi Arabia, leaving him on his own for the rest of his two-year assignment. This suited him fine, they got along far better when separated by an ocean. He had had a few crushes on other ex-pats in Saudi, but nothing more.

His lessons, with a gentle doyen of the school, proceeded at their traditional, unhurried pace. He stayed in a foreigner-friendly hotel, where he met a young woman behind the desk, a tall and beautiful Sikh girl named S. She spoke perfect English and was refreshingly forward, proud to inform him that she had recently been chosen “Miss Bengal” in a competition. This may have even been true, given the way her tightly wrapped sheer sari accentuated her alluring twenty-something curves. When he decided to save money by moving to a cheaper hotel she asked him where he would be and if she could come by to hear him sing.

He met her in the lobby of his new hotel, beneath the disapproving eyes of the check-in clerk, and led her up the stairs to the small flat. They talked of this and that, her dissatisfaction with Bengali men—“They make such a show of being so soft, so artistic!”, her family, her marriage prospects, sex. She had had a European boyfriend, a professor on vacation, they had made out in the taxi as he departed, promising to stay in touch. Touch—while talking, they had gradually edged closer on the narrow bed, the only place to sit in the little room. Their legs pressed together like magnets, hands and fingertips fluttering like mating butterflies, while their smoky glances lingered longer each time. Suddenly, as if by agreement, they kissed, and hugged, and kissed again.

Their trysts continued, two or three times a week, always at his hotel. The daily music lessons progressed at a glacial rate—two weeks devoted to the first note alone—and their intimacy progressed at the same slow tempo. One hot afternoon, S surprised the man. Lying beneath him in her underwear, her sari neatly folded on the table, she lifted her bra, offering her pale, firm breasts to his eyes, his hands, his lips.

The next time they graduated to touching each others’ centers of pleasure, moving panties and shorts aside when they got in the way. Her sweet and juicy papaya yielded to his eager, muscular fingers as they probed and kneaded, as his aubergine member pressed against her thigh, the tip of it peeking out from the top of his shorts.

It was during his last week in Calcutta when her curiosity led her to, just once, try kissing his now naked body, tracing the outline of his aching arrow of lust. He returned the gesture as she fully opened herself to his caressing hands and lips and tongue. “OH!” S cried out, “that feels … SUPER!!”

THE END / 2021