Ms. Grewal is a young lady,
thirty-two to be precise.
Pretty, sassy, sexy, witty,
on fire with a passion to achieve.
She is a lawyer, a very accomplished one,
with a busy routine she handles with great poise and aplomb.
Last night, she was my guest.
It was a fun evening, full of verve and zest,
a small single malt, an array of good food,
and some lively, spirited conversation flowed.
At the table were young and the old,
a curiously eclectic mix,
each one in a mood to talk,
each one relaxed, Lord Bacchus spurring everyone to come forth.
It began with Ms. Grewal,
upfront and candid, spontaneous and spunky.
The young lady started reminiscing about her journey.
Swapping old stories with us all, she casually mentioned her first boyfriend,
just a small trip down the memory lane,
and went on to narrate a rather hilarious incident,
where the young boy clumsily blended saffron rice with roast mutton.
The lady’s husband was there with her, a young promising officer,
he enjoyed himself while he watched his wife regale others with flourish and flair.
Ms. Grewal carried on uninhibitedly, revealing her early adolescent days,
those gloriously lazy times,
when the aroma of romance chases you through the nights.
But as she spoke, the guests started getting a tad nervous–
a married girl talking about her boyfriends…
That was truly scandalous!
Our lady had not the least idea she was causing ripples,
and carried on with vim and vigour and plenty of vinegar.
Entirely comfortable in her own skin,
she jumped to her second boyfriend, this time a college senior,
sharing what a great-looking guy he was,
how they bonded,
how they lost touch,
how they went off in different directions,
wishing each other well,
bearing each other no grudge.
The effervescent girl, in a rather reflective mood,
kept unravelling her youthful trysts,
those small harmless bits that shape you in myriad ways,
that introduce you to your sexuality,
that in fact, acquaint you with the person you are.
As the girl spoke, the disquiet became palpable, pretty conspicuous–
it couldn’t be just passed off as silence.
Soon omertà reigned over the place.
It was at this point that our lady got the hint.
She was bewildered, baffled for a minute,
but bright girl, she could soon see through patriarchy’s tint.
She looked around at all those troubled, concerned faces,
and soon the realisation dawned on her that a man could be forever flirtatious, frisky and fecund,
but a woman’s sexuality was first sanctioned,
and then rationed.
A man could have a colourful love life
– all his life,
but a woman had to be always pure and virginal and white.
She looked at the septuagenarian men around, merrily, mischievously reflecting on the myth of Yayti,
wishing to beg, borrow, steal some everlasting sensual whiff.
Bemused, she looked at the guy sitting next to her, who a while ago, was trying to grab her knee.
She could see the insidious irony–
‘Men would be men’,
uninhibited, overt, crass, blatantly sexual,
and yet her simple little casual conversation had managed to raise such heat!
As she stood decoding the silence,
she could figure out the need to cut free the rope that ties a woman to her words.
Confidently she got up,
light-hearted, without getting into explanations,
without the weight of gender expectations,
a smile in place and with a twinkle in her eye,
bid everyone adieu.
Walking out hand in hand with her doting husband,
her past like a muddy pool,
smudged, merged with the present,
following her through.
Sangeeta Kampani, 63, was formerly with the IRS.