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My Madhubala

I saw her daily in the morning when she woke up from her bed. I saw her as she got ready to go to work. Standing at the window, staring at her as she came to the window of her room in the opposite building and put her wet towel to dry out in the sun, was getting to be a ritual. But she never ever turned her gaze up to look at me. In fact, for so many days now, I had not seen her face; only her figure, as she carried about her daily tasks. Then she would step out, again her head lowered, and walk off to the bus stop to take a bus to work. For days together, I was trying to muster enough strength to go down and follow her to the bus stop so that at least once I could see her face; but never could.

Those were difficult times for me, young and fresh just out of college from a small town; trying to make it out in the city. All the smells and scenes and the people in the city were alien to me. Work was tough; trying to keep alive on what meagre amount I could earn was even tougher.

I used to go to work late in the afternoon and return past midnight; tired and fed up; dreaming about the quiet countryside that I had grown in; gearing up to get some sleep in the raucous neighbourhood that seemed to have more street dogs than men. And then there was her....she seemed to me like a statue of peace in all that mayhem.

All the surroundings that harassed me did not seem to flutter her a bit; she carried out her daily routine like a robot unfazed by anything that happened around her. I never saw her come in as whenever I came home, which was pretty often after midnight, the lights in her small room were off.

I imagined her, sleeping peacefully like a child. In a way, she gave me strength to go about the daily struggle. But it intrigued me as could someone be so calm as to not raise her head even to look at the person who stared at her the hope that she would gaze up once and show her face. But her gaze was probably always fixed to her toes...

Until that day when all illusions were shattered.

It was a Sunday. Never before had I seen her come out of her small room on Sundays. I used to stay in my room all day too, as I never had enough money to step out and let go a bit. All I could do was sit around in my small room on the third floor of a dilapidated building trying to get a glimpse at the window opposite to my room...her window.

On that particular Sunday, at about 10:00 in the morning, I saw her opening the window; which was pretty unusual. I raced to mine to get a glance. There she was staring up at me; I still vividly remember that sight. She had caught me red-handed (or probably red-faced) and still I stood there shamelessly, not knowing what to do. In a minute, the window closed...but I still stood there transfixed...she was beautiful!

Her face was like a baby; nice chubby cheeks and dark eyes too big for the face. Small rounded nose decorated by a small ring...she had an almost rustic charm. She had not smiled at me, or maybe there was a hint of smile on her face; as if she was mocking me.

I was still standing there staring at that closed window for I remember not how many minutes, when the doorbell shattered my reverie. I was irritated with the thought of my landlord knocking at my door as he always did on Sundays, to check what I had made of his room and to collect the rent.

With a smirk on my face, I went and opened the door, still more irritated as my sweet memory of her got disturbed. It wasn't the landlord, but a small boy, whom I had seen many times across the street standing there with a piece of paper in his hand. He ran away the moment he handed me the paper, before I could utter a single word. On that piece of paper were two magical words....come over.

It did not take me long to understand who had sent the message. My curiosity was about to get settled. It was a feeling that you get when you get your final exams result sheet. I got dressed quickly and moved. I almost raced to her door, with my heart racing even faster but before I knocked, I hesitated. Till that day, she was an illusion for me, and now, she would no longer be. Was I ready to break the shackles or would I be happier knowing her as I always did, an enigma.

The door was opened before I could knock and I was ushered in by her. The room was simple, just one single bed, one cupboard and a writing desk with chair; but it was very neat and clean. She was standing in the middle of the room asking me to sit but I just stood there dumbfounded looking at that gorgeous face...the face that had avoided me all these days; the face that I had designed and redesigned in my mind. But this one was even more beautiful than what I had ever imagined.

Eventually, I did sit down, her words almost imperceptible to my mind. She went in the kitchen and returned with two cups of tea and sat opposite me on the chair. I took the cup from her hand, avoiding her eyes and started seeping the tea. She was smiling at me. “Are you afraid of me?” she asked. “Don't be, I won't eat you.”

Finally I decided to get control of myself and speak. “Tea is nice,” I mumbled and she started laughing out aloud. It was a laughter like that of a kid, open and uninhibited. I felt relaxed and I smiled a bit too. We talked for a long time and it was mostly me answering her questions like a student answers his teacher. “You are a brave boy,” she said. I asked her why. "You have the guts to come to the city and make your own way in it. You will succeed,” she said.

I asked her what she did and she just shrugged. “Never mind what I do, dear.”

I got frustrated that she was not ready to speak a word about herself and it probably showed on my face. She stood up and came and sat beside me on the bed. What she did next was a simple soul like me who was never loved that way by anyone; not even his own mother.

She put her hand in my hair and caressed my forehead softly. It was like magic, her finger seemed to have the magic and I was transponded to another realm. My eyes were closed as I reveled in the moment and I heard her whispering softly in my ears, “Calm down, my dear....loosen up. Let me take care of you, my poor soul.”

As I slowly came back to my senses, I found her soft breasts from beneath her saree caressing my body. She had moved very close to me, very close for my comfort indeed. But her fingers still were bewitching me and she kept on saying soothing words to me. And slowly I began enjoying the unusual warmth crept in my body, almost like malarial fever attacks, and it originated from my loins.

My penis was rock hard and I was puzzled as to how this could happen. She sensed my confusion and stroked my head still keeping that charm alive. Her hand was creeping inside my pants and she took hold of my penis. This was not right, no, my mind kept on repeating but I was too paralysed by the strong emotions she had invoked in me.....emotions so strong....they were felt only once in life by a man.

I decided to give up my struggle and laid back my head on the wall behind me. She had her fingers around my penis and she was stroking me softly. My heart beats were increasing and my mind was getting confused, desire and fear were pulling me apart.

But she did not stop. She lay her head on my chest and unbuckled my pants. She was now stroking my cock with both her hands, her breasts pressing hard on my chest. She did not kiss me but kept on repeating the same words again and again, “Let go my dear, let me take care of you.”

All of a sudden my mind was too tired to think about anything and gave myself to her almost shamelessly. My hand and legs went limp as she stroked me even harder. When it came, it was like bolt of lightning and it shook me like thunder shakes a straw hut. I came like the showers that follow the thunder, the feeling wiping out last of my energies as I lay limp on the bed.

She had not yet left me and we were lying there on her bed. Slowly as my mind came back to its senses, I felt an unusual atonement. I was at peace with the world all of a sudden as if the pent up rage, tiredness in my soul had come out in the form of my juices.

She stood there smiling at me as I tidied myself up. I stared at her not knowing what to say. I had nothing to say but she had. “This will give you peace my dear.....this will make you stronger.”

I got ready to go and asked her if we could meet again. “If fate decides so, we will. But I pray that we don't. Remember me my dear lad, and remember to love and be loved back.” I did not understand much of what she was saying but I followed her order and went back to my home.

The next morning, the window did not open. For days I kept my post in the morning, but it would not open. On the day it did, there was some other lady standing there.

I inquired about her afterwards and came to know that she was a prostitute working in the nearby red-light area of Mumbai. The owner of the building had asked her to leave when he discovered this. Prostitutes were not allowed to lead a normal life with normal people like me. What an irony that was.

This happened in the bylanes of Mumbai in the 1950s when young India was just getting to know what freedom was, when every young Indian heart was ruled by the Bollywood actress Madhubala.

I had met Madhubala.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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