An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 120 short stories and 15 books on fiction and 4 on military history.
Travel was something that Mary loved. She was a journalist and her profession
helped her traverse to all the four corners of the Globe. Over the years she had
commuted to Africa and Vietnam, Korea, and Argentina and loved it all. She had
imbibed in the spirit of the places she visited and a host of myriad memories had
become implanted in her mind. One visit to Calcutta however, in the fall of ninety-three had changed the course of her entire life. Even now she lives with the memory
of that fateful visit.
An assignment to write a series of articles on life in the city had brought her to
Calcutta. Before leaving London the editor had advised her in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Listen, Mary,” he had said “Whatever you write….don’t forget to write about an ancient mode of conveyance in the city, the Rickshaw. In particular, the man-driven carts. They are peculiar to that metropolis."
Mary was English; fair, slim, and beautiful. She was thirty-five, but not one man
could have placed her above twenty-five. She had a flawless face, but it was her
legs that were the most arresting. They were smooth and sculptured to perfection.
She caught the British Airways flight to Calcutta. As she came out of the Jumbo she
noticed that the sky was low and dark clouds covered it. Involuntarily she thought of
John, her husband and was glad that she had left him behind in London. Ten years
of marriage had not yielded any children. Perhaps a child could have stabilized their
union, but now they seemed to be growing on each other's nerves.
She completed the customs formalities and came out of the airport at Dum Dum and hired a taxi. As she entered the cab, she could not help comparing these dowdy
ambassadors with the cabs back in London. So spick and span there and so
rundown and dirty here. But despite all this, she had a fondness for India where her
grandfather had pushed his pen for many years at the Writers Building in the heart of Calcutta.
She checked in at The Grand on the Esplanade and slept till late the next day, to get over her jet lag. Refreshed by the afternoon she dressed and came out onto the
street and hired a taxi. She had a mind to drive around the city, to get a feel of the
city. The yellow-painted cab soon piloted her to the landmarks like Victoria
memorial, Alipore zoo, Park street et all. After some time she leaned forward and
told the driver “Lister, take me to the old city”. The driver grimaced “Ah! Madam,
that part of Calcutta is old and dirty; do you really want to go there?”
“Yes,” she replied curtly.
The driver reversed his cab and soon headed for the old city. She noted the change
in the skyline as scores of dilapidated buildings appeared. She looked at the sky and saw that dark grayish clouds had blackened.
A violent crash of thunder heralded the first falling of raindrops. In a few moments
heaven opened up and the rain began to fall in all its glory. She loved the rain
and put her arm out to feel the droplets of water as they wet her hand. The street
soon became empty as people scurried for shelter. The taxi driver drove slowly past
Burra Bazaar, Bow Bazaar, and China Bazaar and then suddenly stopped. She
looked out and saw the street ahead was waterlogged. There were at least two feet
of water on the road. The driver looked back and said with a rueful face “I told you
, madam, now what?” She did not reply but looked around. A little distance away
under a makeshift shelter stood a hand rickshaw. Its owner stood nearby wearing a
loose shirt and striped Lungi. Her inquisitive spirit took over and she waved to the
A moment later he saw her and bounded towards her. She looked at
the taxi driver and smiled. Then without a word she got out and ran to the hand
rickshaw. She got into the ricksha and sat down. Inside the cart with its canopy
pulled up she was relatively safe from the rain. The ricksha puller approached her with a quizzical look. He stood near the armrests and asked “ Where to?”
He stood in the rain allowing it to fall squarely on him. Mary eyed the riksha puller.
She was taken in by his physique and could make out the immense power in his
body. His shirt now wet, stuck to his body revealing his muscles in relief.
“Take me across,” she told the puller.
He nodded his head and lifted the armrests of the ricksha. In the process, his biceps
and forearms flexed revealing a set of powerful muscles. She mentally noted that he was young, perhaps in his early twenties. He must be strong like oxen she
“Where to?” He asked again.
“Ah, take me anywhere; I just want to see the city," She replied, but first take me across the pool, to the other side.”
The rickshaw puller
The man smiled. He had a friendly smile. Quickly he pulled up his lungi and
wrapped it around his waist, revealing a pair of muscular legs.
“Ok, madam, I am going to enjoy taking you around,” he said with exuberance, as
he set the ricksha into motion. He crossed the waterlogged street and she noted
how easily it was done. She realized the utility of the hand rickshaw and made a
mental note of it.
Suddenly as it so often happens in the East, there was a tremendous clap of thunder, and the rain increased in ferocity. The ricksha puller did not seem to mind, but water began to splash on her face and arms, as the canopy of the cart proved
inadequate for such a downpour.
“Stop,” she said, “I’m getting wet”
The man looked back, smiled, and turned into a deserted lane. It was not long ere he wheeled the rickshaw under the foyer of a dilapidated and abandoned building. It was obvious that the building was deserted as it was in an extremely wretched condition and unsafe for habitation.
“Now you are safe madam,” the man laughed.
She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke away.
“What is your name,” She asked.
“Bihari” he replied.
The rain continued to fall as she sat in the rickshaw. Her skirt had got pulled up above the knee and Bihari was witness to the incandescent white flesh of her thighs.
Despite the rain, it was pretty warm as it was the Indian summer.
“Madam,” he said,“Why don’t you come inside the building as the rickshaw and its
seat is completely wet”
She realized the sagacity of his remark and nodded her head in assent. As she made to descend she was balked by the small pool of water around the rickshaw, formed by the flowing rainwater. She looked at Bihari wondering what to say. Bihari saw her hesitation and stepped forward and lifted her up in his arms and carried her
inside the house. Cradled in his arms she was once again struck by his prodigious
strength. His power seemed to seep into her body. He gently put her down and
looked at her, his eyes clearly showing their fascination for her. She adjusted her
skirt and looked around. She noted that the room was bare and empty. At one time
it was perhaps the living room of the occupants. She could feel Bihari’s eyes boring
into her; I hope he does not do anything silly she thought.
“I wonder how I will get back,” she said more to herself than Bihari. Bihari then did
something inexplicable. He took her hand and said, “Memsahib, there is nothing to
worry about; I shall take you back.”
She was surprised at his boldness as she felt his grip in her hand, in her wrist,
through her whole arm. Her eyes were now accustomed to this mid darkness and
she could see plainly, and she saw that Bihari was standing at her side, massive,
naked from the waist up. Her body quivered as a cold wind blew from the window.
She withdrew her hand its all so unreal she thought. She was conscious of Bihari
stepping forward and saying in a forced whisper “Take off your blouse madam, I
want to see you”
However, she stood like a statue, one hand on the back of her neck where she had
put it to adjust her hair. He did not say anything further but when she did not say
anything, he stepped in front of her and untied the top of her blouse. With one swift
motion of his hand, he pulled the blouse off her body. In a further lightning move, he
pulled the straps of her bra down and unhooked it with one motion of his hand.
Mary was too stunned to react. She was now naked to the waist and he pulled her
to him without even looking at her. He kissed her with some force, perhaps in the
hope to awaken her; get a response from her. His hands were now behind her head
but his thumbs held up her face to him. He held her with a force so she could not
twist her head away. Strangely she did not find it distasteful as he continued to devour her, his tongue forcing an entry into her month. As he continued to kiss her she felt weak and her legs seemed to give way under her. But with his tongue deep in her mouth, he supported her weight with his hands. He broke the kiss and lifted her in his arms and half-naked as she was, laid her on the stone floor.
“Don’t,” she stammered “I shall have you arrested and put in jail” He did not reply
but bent over her and kissed her breasts. From kissing, he graduated further into an inferno that would consume her. Bihari traced an erotic pattern with his tongue. The effect on her was catalytic as he devoured her.
Bihari had taken her hand and placed it over his bare chest, to his heart, which was pounding wildly, like hers. Feeling his pounding heart she had a vague thought that he might be terrified, too.
She was soon into a trance, more like an erotic dream from which she could not escape. She felt the gushes of shamed pleasure. It was hedonism at its best. She felt a sharp pain in her foot. It was a thorn-filled stem that someone had cast aside. However, the pain made the explosion of pleasure even more intense.
It shamed her, later on, to remember that during the entire period, the only words she had whispered were “I hope nobody saw us.”
Believe or not
Much later he got up and helped her dress and then carried her to the rickshaw. The
rain had stopped as he set course for the Grand. She lay back with her eyes closed
oblivious to everything.
She reached the hotel and alighted slowly from the rickshaw. She took out her purse and opened it, to pay him. She took out a hundred Rupee note and looked up, only to see that the Riksha was receding in the distance.
“Bihari, stop……” She wanted to say, but the words got stuck in her throat. She
never saw Bihari again. It was as if, he had disappeared into the bowels of this
She returned to London and filed her stories. The days passed peacefully enough
and she genuinely tried to make up with John. A few weeks later she felt changes in
her body and her Doctor confirmed she was pregnant. She did feel a strange sense of elation at this news. In the evening she told John. The delight showed in his eyes
as he realized that the long and impossible had happened. He kissed her even as
her mind reverted to Bihari the rickshaw puller. What a way to end a travel diary. God bless him!
Does the story appear unbelievable or improbable I will not comment on it and leave it to the readers to make their judgment?
© 2022 MG Singh emge