Bad People – by Abbas Bagasrawala

by TBLM

‘So have you ever walked in on your mother touching herself’?

I hollered through the pistachio-colored door of the bathroom as I dicky-ed around in the medicinal cabinet and in the laundry basket hoping to find something incriminatory, or personal, that might limn precious information about whether or not my friend’s mother was looking for some young gun to rock her world. I was just killing time waiting for the flush tank to refill so as to complete the double tap on it, in the manner of the British Secret Services, after what was quite an extraordinary shit. This high performing bowel movement was poignant considering I was in an alien environment somewhere in the boondocks of New Mumbai, far removed from my normal day-to-day, non-pistachio-colored creature comforts in the South of Bombay.

My friend replied. Something garbled, and understandably angry, but probably clichéd about my own personal mother or my father’s mother or some other mother genealogically related to me somewhere, somehow.

I smirked and shook my head at the predictability of his reaction, while wondering why there weren’t any of the personal nasties of the mother of the hour in the laundry, deciding that there must be something weird–and because it suited me–kinky about this whole segregation of laundry. For a second, I wondered whether she was commando-ing through the hallowed halls of the Bank of Baroda, Sector-17 Branch teasing customers and colleagues alike.

The medical cabinet didn’t reveal anything drastic, either, being that it was pharmaceutically lackluster. No hints to prescriptions for depression, or mental weakness that might be exploited. All it had was just some boring Digenes, and Paracetemol variants which included the ever-constant Crocin. There were a few other pills that I didn’t know of, but their shape and size seemed to suggest that they were for mostly innocuous crap ailments that most adults like to pander to. There was however a pink, disposable razor that got me a little excited, but it was old, and unpacked which didn’t speak well for its intended user or use.

‘Does your mother wear lingerie that is lacy or is she a silk Smitha’?

And so it went, in a manner that was becoming usual whenever I was with this particular friend, who for the sake of utter efficacy, we shall call “G”. G was a friend, err…classmate a.k.a. study-buddy, from engineering who I was orbiting around for the sake of study notes and his general cognizance in matters of said engineering. G and G’s mother, a widow, were upper-caste Hindus, most probably surmised on the lesser premise that they had a fair-ish complexion and looked a little more moneyed and a little more refined than some of the more common natives of New Bombay. The larger aspect of his caste was provided by G himself, who thought it best that I become Ajay, from an entirely more Muslim name, every time I visited their home for notes, or joint studies, or just joints(his mother worked late sometimes so it was a good place to smoke up).It also helped that I had the mannerisms and the general wherewithal to pull off an Ajay better than most Muslims that he or I knew of.

The first time he asked me to not be me, he did so hesitatingly, in that slightly embarrassed fashion that people use when talking about the intellectual backwaters that their parents, or close family, come from. I wasted no time in letting him have it, wherein I spoke to him about the repercussions to his barely-there reputation if everyone else in college knew about the shitty, prejudiced ways of his mother. There was also something to recount in college about the fact that his mother had moved him into the master bedroom where he masturbated his brains into mush, on the same bed where his mother and his once very Maharastrian Manoos, now-very-dead Vadeel had slept. This added to that other chuckle-worthy detail: his bed faced a very large framed picture of his parents and an equally large framed picture of the veritable Shivaji Maharaj looking on, which basically meant that I had enough on him to last a couple of semesters in terms of tease material.

The mother had moved into G’s old room because it was apparently “too painful” to sleep in that bed and also because the master bedroom was the one with the AC, and my friend was, after all, an only male child studying to be an engineer which meant he had the unspoken dibs on that most important seat of power. She had also taken up her old job as bank-officer because her son believed she wanted the company and something to do while he was day-scholaring his way through the machinations of engineering.

The Mother’s disposition to discrimination also made me wonder aloud to him whether “all the cigarettes and beer I was spending money on would have him stab me at the first sign of a riot because that was what his sweet bank-officer mommy wanted, and also because that’s sometimes what riots can warrant when things get chaotic.”

I liked his discomfiture in the face of my insinuations. And then continued that “I know you’re not the back, or a body-part, stabbing sort because your dearest mommy won’t let you out of her mollycoddling sight. Not until you have landed a cushy but soul-sucking job in a public limited company after which she will then marry you off to some poor sap, who she will then focus her witch-craft on.”

He protested, feebly, that his mother was really not that bad and he was merely trying to avoid, in his very Maharashtrian accented words, “the jhikjhik” of the post-introduction conversation that might follow my coming over to the sanctum-sanctorum that was their home.

Honestly though, despite the hard time I gave him for it, I didn’t really mind playing along. That’s because G, with his ironed jeans and his bush-shirts of psychedelic aspirations, and the BATA sneakers, knew his shit, speaking from purely an Engineering-Second-year-Strength-of-Materials syllabus basis. And also because he was a likeable bird with an empty house, which he had the run of.

Even the nom de plume situation didn’t bother me because, though she was pure evil in some ways, the mother was a MILF-titution with breasts that could be a utopia where people could live in peace and harmony if they could only free them from whatever cheap, polyester-ridden bras that had constrained their potential. She also was alone because her husband had passed away in an industrial accident (that seemed to be from all accounts his own dumbfuckery) some years ago. There were also no suitors of any sort of build, caste or net-worth in contention for his mother and so her loneliness was just the right hue for the picking. And thus, there lay at least a statistical possibility that she might, out of loneliness and a sense of adventure, offer to take me to bed and show me things that were cougar-themed.

My wanting to be with G’s mother was mostly wishful thinking coupled with the fact that engineering with all its stresses and pressures and the absence of women had me pretty horny. An impending exam and a possible flunking just added to the sub-text of the horniness because God you’re horny when you’re at the edge of being educationally eviscerated. To add to that, there was the appended pleasure of just ragging on G through the suggestion that my intentions in sleeping with his mother were entirely honorable. “All, I want” I explained to him with inglorious straight-face, “is to take our friendship to the next level where I can officially father you, like I do every day, and fill this void in your life. Just think for a moment about how you know good fathers become friends with their sons. This will be just like that except we’ll be good friends as I become your father and take care of your mother’s every need. Also, you know what a terrible man my father is and so you know that I won’t repeat those mistakes. I’ll be the best father possible simply based on not being my father. And I’m not saying I’m perfect but at least I won’t be like your father who just left you and your mother in the lurch when he upped and died.”

This would be met with a facial distortion that was strabismic and suggestive of some deep, neuralgia-like pain followed by an expulsion of oft-repeated cusses from his mouth. After that he would offer up a threat to turgid violence, which I always considered something of a pratfall because the fuckhead couldn’t fight for shit. His reaction nearly always disappointed me, as I knew it would sadden his mother. In that sense, I already did feel quite fatherly towards him.

So I went there every opportunity I got. To study, and to letch, and to await that moment when malicious, lonely aunty with petticoat-ed wonderland of a body would call me to her room, under some or the other thinly disguised ruse, for the partaking of carnal pleasures and a catharsis that only skin-on-skin intimacy delivers. Nothing happened except that I got some good studying in, which in itself wasn’t bad, but a sexual encounter would have just made for so much more of a happy ending.

Then, one night quite close to the exam, when my friend and I had what can only be called a pretty epic study session, she invited me to stay for dinner. She also asked me to stay for the night, since it was not really a decent hour for a person with a made-up name that suggested a good, maybe upper-class Hindu boy, to be going home at. I readily agreed, as every fantasy I had mentations about, seemed to be on the cusp of deliverance.

Also, it helped that she was suggesting a stay-over, which was better than travelling all the way back to SoBo just to be eating microwaved food alone in the embrace of just one’s wide-screen TV. This was after all, what awaited me at home where my parents, both regimented in their corporate collusions, had probably turned in for the night after their night-cap of squabbling about something inconsequential.

As the table was set–with suitable upper-class Hindu boy help from me–the conversation drifted somehow, from the normal terrains of polite conversation to her son telling her that I had turned non-vegetarian. This was with regards to the subject of my elaborate fib to her of my staunch vegetarianism. Fucking bastard snickered across at me as he thought he had me on the ropes with the confabulation even as her face went a shade close to my father’s exasperation. I gathered my breath, looked coolly across to her, while being quite aware of the magnificence of her breasts that lay just below, and then told her in a tone that’s won me members of the opposite sex, “Doctor’s orders! Apparently, I have iron deficiencies, and aunty you know how mother is too busy travelling for her career to make us a proper meal. So, the Doctor suggested that the best idea is that I just indulge in the barbarity of non-vegetarianism temporarily for nutrition even though it is against my better judgment.”

At some point in that conversation I also told her with suitable delectatio morosa, “If you ever turn non-veg in the future, I’d be happy to feed my meat to you”. But neither of them got it, which was an unmitigated bummer.

The conversation then careened towards the difficulty of sourcing good veggies and fruits from the markets in South Bombay, as compared to the whole-sale wholesomeness of the APMC market in Vashi. It was then that I told her about how we, in South Bombay, had this Muslim gentleman who would deliver home our veggies, for not too much extra of a price. I went on to elaborate about how this gentleman was all sorts of awesome because he wouldn’t send the sad shit but only the primo stuff and you only paid him only if you were happy, if not ecstatic, that there was someone of this trustworthiness in the volatile world of vegetable vendors.

“A Muslim supplies the food you eat?” she asked, a tad too incredulously.

“Yup,” I replied, and then because it seemed the concomitant thing to do, I asked her “Why”? with a tone that was part curiosity and part nonchalance.

“No, it just seems a bad idea to have them touch the food you eat. They’re quite unclean people, aren’t they”?

Now I was about to register a protest here because Muslims, of all shapes, are wuzu-ing at least 5 times a day every time they’re namaaz-ing, and so this charge of general non-hygiene seemed a little incondite. But I decided against it as a course of action just to keep the conversation flowing.

Instead, I heaped praise over praise on the Muslim vendor suggesting that he was a prince among men on account of his professionalism and his immaculate hygiene which was far removed from the standards of his kin. This was not even to mention his somewhat good looks which, even scientifically, lent him more credibility as the creed of vendors go. I spoke about the easy charm he seemed to exude on imaginary Ajay’s imaginary household, such that my imaginary mother and, sometimes, her imaginary maid, looked forward to his coming with starry eyes and a sigh on their lips because he was such a bearer of quality vegetable and other tidings. I did put in the piquant little rider that my imaginary father was not too happy about this Muslim invasion on the kingdom of his kitchen by this Sultan of Sabzi, but my father was of the old ways, who could not see that the old times and the old crimes were not relevant anymore.

You know how, in the movies, there is always a button you shouldn’t push or else you shall be faced with a cataclysm of events that will eventually lead to everyone dying and suffering or something equally dramatic in its implications.

Well, this Muslim vegetable vendor turned out to be that button, and this was me, in the conversation, pushing it – repeatedly, like some sort of villainous maniac. So far as I was concerned, it didn’t even seem like a very large, red and glowing button with a sign that said “Don’t, under any circumstances, push this fucking button,” so I did seem a little perturbed and amused as to how much my friend tried his very pathetic best to get me to rudder this conversation towards less nefarious waters. He mimed himself red, mouthing expletives that ranged from the classic bhenchod, maderchod to some others that were more derivative in their art.

The next 10 minutes revolved around that beautiful woman with her bountiful breasts telling me in explicit detail about how and why I should not be eating produce bought from Muslims or “neechey log” and asked me whether I would like references to vegetable vendors that were of a more shudh sort. She went on about every cliché about Muslims, including how we conjugally inconvenienced four wives – taking time to extol on the sheer unfairness of it, in terms of the modern world and its logistics. She exhibited some slightly askew affiliations to feminism when she got mordant about the benefits of not objectifying women as only objects of lust and childbearing which was impressive, considering the circumstances. She also expounded in breathless detail about how Muslims keep birthing children thus ruining the cause of birth-control for everyone, and how they bordered on savage because they put the non in non-veg. All of this was said in a manner which needed, as an undersigning of the moment, some dramatic music of the Bollywood bent at the very least, with perhaps even some of those lightning and thunder effects from the 80s and the 90s thrown in. It was a monologue that was deserving of that sort of treatment.

As she spoke, her eyes flashed and insult over insult for a group of people came to that table like some unwelcome guest with a very large and visible facial deformity. It was then or somewhere around that time that I zoned out of the conversation to wonder about how this woman was so fair and how she had eyes of a color that evidenced what could only be some sort of European/Caucasian interlude in genetic terms. Although, to be fair, she did also have the sort of hairiness, evident through her un-waxed arms that spoke about being one with the Bharat Mata. This, of course, took me towards another minor rumination about whether she was sporting a bush or not. After that there was no turning back to intelligence in that conversation.

I coaxed her on with incredulousness and surprise at what she was regaling me with, between mouthfuls of her roti and her sabzi and her very tasty achar on a table that had a Formica pattern which must have been popular in history for a very brief time. My wide-eyed, novitiate-in-the-woods act made her go ballistic in her attempt to educate me and hence somehow save me from the depredation of fraternizing with Muslims and others of that lower denomination that no one really likes to talk about on outmoded Formica-ed upper-caste Hindu dining tables. I think I wanted to know how far she’d go, and I think I wanted to know if she’d take me there with her, and then maybe, because I made that hate-filled trip with her, maybe we’d fuck, on the bed of our apparently shared cause, and it would be good. A deviation on the regular hate sex theme, if you will. And so, even though her son tried, continuously – and somewhat spasmodically- to change the subject, I nudged her on with words and an indication of an understanding of all the things she was saying and feeling.

Gosh, she was an image in her cottony nightgown spewing hate like some heathen goddess from some age long forgotten, as her head and face glistened with summer sweat. Her omnipresent breasts loomed large in that room like the inappropriateness of the conversation we were having. I was enjoying it all until at some point she spoke about something that sounded remotely genocidal, remotely Nazi-ish. An off-the-cuff idea she thrusted into, about bringing in the army, and the maintaining of Muslim areas such that Muslims do not get through to the epidermis of the general population. A differentiation. A segregation. She even made a Sanjay Gandhi joke about the treatment that should be meted out to the Muslim men and then cackled. It wasn’t even a good joke, nothing to disguise that it was merely a delivery system for malfeasances.

And just like that it wasn’t fun anymore. Suddenly, she wasn’t that bootilicious older babe I wanted to fuck my brains out with anymore, because I found, beyond that apical Milfness, and behind those gray-colored eyes, a taint. She was boring, what with her not even having anything adroit to her gaucheness. Besides, it was also late and even an engineering subject and its weird scriptures seemed to warrant more interest in me now than the tediousness of her: she who didn’t even deserve the concept of my super-awesome, South-Bombaiya veggie vendor and his home-delivering ways. So I left her to it and returned to studying with her son, who had left some time ago from the table with quite a lot of frustration and resignation.

Before I left that table, which was now just a common space constructed through the con of an all-too- Muslim name becoming an Ajay so as to not hurt the feelings of a friend’s idiot mother, I thought I needed to do something to address the fact that this woman had wanted to delete an entire people. I also needed to do something to address that this woman had made me weak in the knees because of that god-damned body of hers.

Instead what I did was go to the kitchen with my soiled plate. I rinsed the plate under water, clearing out all the debris from it, and then I called out to her from there if she needed a glass of water, and then when she said yes (because who says no to a glass of water freely offered in the middle of a sultry Bombay night), I proceeded to tongue that glass good and proper. It was a steel glass. The kind that clangs like a bastard when dropped on a Kota-tiled kitchen like the one they had. She doesn’t like Muslims in her house, or in her country, or in this world, so I thought it was just right that she have a Muslim in her, one way or the other. And so, I did it with a vengeance, in the sense that I really stuck my deviated proboscoid in there, and got to the nether-est reaches of that glass. But before that, I turned my back to the Ganesha and the other God-like statuettes she had in the Peach-colored corner – right about the onions, and the extra gas cylinder (which seemed – and I enjoyed the irony here – an appropriate item to be kept under the watchful eye of a God). My nose, and my tongue, became physical manifestations of all of her fears of a Muslim invasion and they were striking deep into everything that she held dear (or so I hoped) and it helped with the imagery for this that my nose’s aquiline accents might have had antecedents in some place that hailed in the middle-east.

After that, I got back to studying for that damn exam.

***