Kanna, how is my champ doing?" Hari’s father Narender enquired on the phone.
“Hey pops, I am doing fabulous," Hari replied.
Why is everyone hell bent on hurting one another, either that or living a miserable life by plotting everyday how to get back at people who have hurt them?
A sudden roar of laughter at the northern corner of the cafeteria distracted him. A group of third year students, both boys and girls were cracking up over Charu’s angry rants on Facebook from the earlier night.
“Hari, I miss you lots these days. Really looking forward to seeing you next weekend on your birthday," Narender said.
“Miss you too Appa. Not to worry, I am coming there soon, also have a surprise for you," he said closing his ears to escape the cacophony at the cafeteria. “Appa, it is very loud here. Will call you back in sometime," Hari said and ended the phone call.
“I'm confused," one of the guys at the corner table squealed with excitement, “How come Charu’s photos on her Facebook profile is private when her vagina is public?" and laughed aloud.
“I'm not saying she's a slut," his friend joined the party, “But if her vagina was a video game it would be rated E for Everyone."
Hari and Mani shared glances in disgust and moved farther away from the rowdy group.
“Why did Charu have to write something like this all out in the open?" Hari asked. “Was she referring to someone we know?"
Mani smiled, “Knowing Charu I am not surprised at her action. She can be ruthlessly frank and impulsive. Could it be Sam?" asked Mani.
“Anyways, what did Appa say?" Mani asked.
“He wants me to come home for my birthday," Hari said and looked at Mani for his reaction. “I will not go if you don’t approve."
“Stay here with me then," Mani said and looked at Hari with a straight face. A brief pause ensued. He then laughed and said, “Stop being a baby. I am always here; go spend some time with your family."
Hari smiled at Mani and took a hard bite from the apple on his food tray.
“Mani I really like you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you," Hari said.
“Hello, how old are you? You are not eighty, you are just eighteen. Stop behaving like an old man," Mani replied and pressed Hari’s hands.
“Tell me Hari, why is everyone hell bent on hurting one another, either that or living a miserable life by plotting everyday how to get back at people who have hurt them?" Mani wondered.
Hari nodded in agreement but said nothing.
“Does hurting someone give happiness?" said Mani and continued; “When I tried committing suicide, a part of me thought I was hurting the people who caused my suffering. I thought my action would teach them a lesson. Come to think about it now, I did not get any sadistic pleasure or justice. I just felt guilty and miserable."
“Can I ask you a question?" Hari interjected.
“Would you think low of me if I told you that I have many times thought of killing my uncle as an act of revenge for the amount of pain and suffering he had inflicted?" Hari inquired calmly.
An uneasy silence persisted briefly. Mani tightly pressed Hari’s hands and stared down at his food plate while tears rolled down from the corner of his eyes.
“What’s up my babies?" Charu exclaimed in a perky tone and kissed Hari on his cheeks that made him blush.
“Hello hello heroine, you don’t seem to be perturbed even a bit," Mani said referring to her insinuating Facebook post.
I fall in love with every person who shows the vulnerability of their souls. Everyone is living a life of fear, hypocrisy and political correctness. I respect rawness any day.
“What is there to be afraid or ashamed about? I wrote the truth, I wrote what I felt and if someone feels offended, sorry I can’t help it," she replied with a nonchalant shrug.
“Do you realize the magnitude of your creation? Do you? You have opened a Pandora’s Box and there are both boys and girls who hate you. They are making jokes and memes about you. Even if you have felt strongly about something, I don’t think you should have written it that way. It was unnecessary, I think," Hari said nervously and turned towards Mani for support.
“Anyways, now that it has happened can we just move on," Charu said and bit the apple gently from Hari’s plate.
“It has just begun Charu," Mani said and continued, “And I don’t think you have written it generally, isn’t it targeted against a specific person? Is it Sam?"
As soon as he uttered Sam’s name, her eyebrows curved northwards.
“Yeah, he really pushed me and I snapped. Come to think about it now, it was slightly reckless, but what the hell," she said and laughed aloud.
Her laughter attracted a lot of curious onlookers who pointed at her and whispered catty comments between themselves.
“Charu, don’t you think you are falling into a stereotypical feminist mold, that all men are evil and all women are victims?" Mani asked.
“I know a lot of girls back in Bangalore who played so many boys including much older men at the same time," Hari added.
“If girls had affairs what’s your problem Hari?" Charu questioned.
She continued, “See my problem with men, women and generally all the so called truth bearers of society is laying rules about love, loyalty, friendship and commitment. How can the world decide that men and women of all ages have to behave in a single regimented way? Every person is different; I have the freedom to live a life as I please. Stop playing God or Satan. I am not saying all men are the same or all girls are victims of male domination, but you will have to accept that men have for centuries tried to control women and their destinies in ways that was convenient to them. I hate to be in a relationship that clips my freedom. I might sound irresponsible, but I want to love everyone who is willing to share the depth of their hearts. I will fall in love with every person who shows the vulnerability of their souls. Everyone is living a life of fear, hypocrisy and political correctness. I respect rawness any day."
“Hmm..," Mani said with a sigh.
“During summer, I volunteered with an NGO that worked with the sex workers in Kamatipura, the red-light district of Mumbai. I learned so much about men from these women that one could learn in a life time. They are so raw, real and so much fun to hang around," Charu said.
Mani and Hari listened to her with rapt attention.
“I really liked Saira and we hit it off instantly. She was probably two or three years elder to me, but her energy and spunk was so infectious. I remember our first meeting distinctly. ‘All men are Chuttiyas,’ she said and laughed.
“She had a lighter complexion compared to most others and always wore a maxi. Saira had a beautiful face with luscious red lips. She applied kohl to accentuate her lips, to give it a shape. I thought it looked weird. She would say that she did that on purpose so that men don’t kiss or lick. She did not like kissing. ‘Getting inside down under is one thing,’ she would say, ‘It is mechanical, but I don’t want to make love’. Saira’s story is very tragic."
Charu continued, “When she was just fourteen, one night she went looking for her father near the railway tracks at her home town, she was gang raped by eight men. She fainted on the spot and the next day found herself in a brothel. She cried, protested and was angry for a long time. She hates sex even today, but will do it for money."
“Saira would say, ‘I am willing to provide for any desire as long as it is sex. I have mastered the art of keeping my body detached from my soul.’ I fell in love with her," Charu said it in exaltation.
Mani and Hari were uncomfortable during some points of her monologue but their natural curiosity in the subject kept their eyes glued to Charu.
Charu was suddenly distracted by a message on her phone that made her excited face stiff and angry. She became silent and stared at the phone.
“What happened? What is it?" Mani asked with concern.
After a little resistance she showed her phone to Mani.
Mani’s face cringed in disgust. “What is it?" Hari wondered and peeked in, “Sick."
“What’s wrong with people? Gross," Hari said.
It was a private message to her Facebook inbox, a photo of a fully erect penis. The message that followed read,
“Dear Vagina, since your post was an open invitation to penises, I decided to pay a visit. You are so hot, I am so turned on by you. I send you a visual proof that you are the reason for my erection. Vous êtes baisé. Xxx."
“I think you should ignore these losers. If he had any guts he would have mentioned his name and not hide behind a fake ID," Mani said.
“Do you realize what he says in his last line?" Charu asked.
“No, what language is it?" Mani replied.
“It means ‘you are fucked’ in French. This should be someone who knows me. Very disgusting, this makes my blood boil. I feel so dirty. What’s wrong with you men? Do you want me to ignore this?" she said angrily.
“I am going to get to the bottom of this," she said sternly and walked briskly towards the door.