I’ve known Kolkata for a long time now. She is my kind of woman – Intelligent, sensuous, extremely physical yet at the same time lives in her head! The classical old, blends with the transition into the new and still very modern – all aspects combine to make her quite irresistible. She’s a product of the past like an old photograph you clicked thirty years ago. There is vibrancy in her, which shows in the way she walks and the way she talks, the things she does, or the discussions she enters into. She shares my love for Shakespeare. Sometimes we stand before a tall mirror enacting parts of his plays as if we were on stage. We share Wordswoth and do Lord Alfred Tennyson’s " Charge of The Light Brigade" together. She then reads to me with complete passion, the right intonation put in for effect, from Sarath Chandra Bondhopadhay, Tagore and Kabi Nasrul Islam. Even Samsur Rehman.
Yes, Kolkata and I share a great deal together. But! Kolkata can sit with you and hold an hour long discussion on Bertrand Russell and at the same time vanish in the middle of it all to put that exact amount of washing powder in the clothes the washer woman is about to begin to wash and come back to the discussion as if it were a part of the Bertrand Russell talks. Again she might surprise you by going into the kitchen with your poems, just to check on the cook and to add the seasoning in the food. This time she did the same and running into the kitchen she instructed the cook to prepare the masalas for an exotic fish dish she said she was about to cook up, to celebrate my visit to the city.
" Don’t be silly, Julia, you are not a vegetarian when you are with me"
"Oh yes, I am" I said, " devoutly so, except for my small vice – haven’t been able to give up on real meat - of either gender!"
She laughed from her heart " Thank God for that".
You guessed it! Kolkata is not her real name. It is something else but I call her that because he reminds me of Tagore’s Sonar Bangla, Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sangsar and Buddhadev’s Red Bengal and " who –can-be-next"’s New Bengal. But no! I can’t tell you her real name because I have crossed my heart not to disclose it.
Our friendship has been long and there is very little we don’t know about each other. We share similar tastes and when we are together, we even share each other’s clothes. Except for the sari, which I never wear. She looks ravishing in one and so graceful! But hey! Stop! There is something that tells you she is not bound by the yards of material around her – she is a free soul. She loves trinkets and she changes them to match whatever she is wearing. Fastidious! Then suddenly you will see her in faded blue jeans with a shirt covering her butts – what is it, you might think. How are you going to place her in your mind? What is her image? You are uncomfortable since everytime she changes it you have to change your perception of her. Very challenging indeed!
So, on the last day of my stay in Kolkata, we spent a day together cooking up brunch or lunch or whatever you might like to call it and talked of the Women’s Movement in India and the forthcoming National Women’s Conference going to happen in Kolkata between 9th – 12th September, 2006. We laughed at the idea at how the whole Salt Lake area where it is sited to take place, will become one big "Allirajyam"!
Kolkata and I have never expressed or even been faintly aware that in a moment of fleeting fancy, we might be attracted to each other – Never! Ever! So what was it that changed things for us this my last day at Kolkata – was it Elvis Presley singing " It’s now or never, come hold me tight, kiss me my darling, be mine tonight. Tomorrow will be too late, it’s now or never, my love won’t wait" Or was it that woman who had kept me awake for the entire month of May, raking my mind and body with red passion? Can’t say. I was in Red Bengal and Kolkata was glowing pink on her cheeks, a dark shade of lipstick on her lips, a very sensuous voice, her eyelids drooping, the ring of her laughter in the room, her languid looks traveled over my body – a hot summer afternoon, just the right temperature to match our inner climate, too magical and magnetic to resist, only a fleeting thought of the woman on my mind passed as we were transported to another space. Raw passion met deep sensuous petting as we bathed in tantric " bodymind" ritual, the boundaries between sex and spirituality blurring out, raw unadulterated sex that brought us close to the realms of the spiritual, and sensual spirituality giving way to sexual abandon.
By the time we emerged, Elvis had finished singing all his songs on that CD. Our lips locked in last minute soft kissing and then we separated, still lying on the bed and in typical Kolkata style broke into a song – "Picnic time for teddy bears, the teddy bears are going to have some fun today…."- Like as if we were in nursery school, screaming at the top of our lungs!
A hot, wet summer afternoon sucked us into a deep sensual, sexual experience and left us with no residue to hang on to – Clean. Accurately surgically cut to make for a chance event.
Just the way I like it.