A 25-year-old roadie, Nalin, meets a witch, Maya, an elderly widow. It’s a full moon night. Tapan takes us through many twists and turns, with sparks flying. Was Maya able to possess the young man? Find out more in this intriguing fantasy fiction, where ritual, rites, sex, desire, blood and more mix into a dangerous concoction, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
The man was staring at the sky. 25-ish, with an irreverent beard and a ponytail jutting out of a bandana – he seemed captivated by the melting pots of gold and orange, pouring out with random abundance across the western horizon. From the ridge, about 200m from Maya’s two-storeyed house off Kanakapura Main Road, the sunset looked otherworldly.
The man had no camera or mobile phone aimed at the sky. It seemed unusual to Maya that a man of 2017 in the tech city of Bangalore would not be clicking such a sight.
Maya could see the man’s profile from her terrace. His lithe frame glowed in vermilion reflection. She blushed on a spurious realisation that it had been a year since she had last bedded a man. During the initial days of widowhood, such a thought would have embarrassed her. It had long ceased to be so.
The man took a few steps towards the ridge. Maya cried out, afraid, “Hey, what do you think you are doing?”
Same time, the same place – faced with the man below at such close proximity to the ridge, the memories of Prakash, her husband, clouded her sprouting desires.
The man didn’t hear her. He kept inching towards the edge with the patience of a frog towards its insect preys. Maya yelled at her security guard and asked him to hold the man back. Her voice could turn violent metallic when worried. The guard knew how abusive his mistress could get to a delayed response. He ran to the man and pulled him back to a safe distance.
The man was startled but promptly composed himself. “What’s the matter with you?” The man caught the guard by his wrist.
The security guard was panting over this sudden adrenaline rush. He tried to wring himself free. The grip was powerful. “Why were you going to jump?”
The man was unflustered in the face of such sudden assault. “I was not going to jump! I just wanted a closer view of the Sun.”
“How close can you get to the Sun by getting a couple of feet nearer?” Maya had come down in the meanwhile.
The man looked up. Maya had taken a late bath today. Her wet and uncombed long hair provided a contrasting backdrop to her aquiline nose and chiselled jawline. She had never dyed her hair. That salt and pepper touch of gravitas was essential for the authority of a single woman to be taken seriously by those around.
The man was bewitched by her charm. Maya saw this and enjoyed every moment of his enchantment. “Are you from the neighbourhood?”
She had never seen him before. ‘A serene, hilly community on the outskirts of Bangalore’ – that was the pitch of the broker that had floored Prakash about 11 years back. They had bought this land parcel from two farmers. Like all the other spaces in and around the city, the hill and its serenity were both depleting.
“No, I am on a road-trip across South India. People on the highway told that this may be a shortcut to the city.” The sun was leaving its abode for the day, taking all the birds along. Their noisy chatter and the colour riot on the horizon were quite in sync. “It was so magical here, I had to stop.”
Maya saw a bike parked at some distance. The man had a backpack placed next to the motorcycle.
“How long have you been travelling today?”
“Straight from Mysore, non-stop.” He looked at his watch, a cheap digital one, “Four and a half hours.”
Maya had no company that evening. His sweaty aroma did wake up a few of her expectations.
“How exciting! I would love to hear about your experiences. Would you mind a cup of tea with me? I was about to have.”
“It’s the only bad habit I inherited from my landlord ancestors.” The man was sheepish. “But I don’t wish to be a bother for you.”
After a couple of formal denials and casual insistences, he agreed to go inside with Maya. She knew by then that he was called Nalin, finance MBA working in Chennai and was on the road to ‘discover his self’. Maya smiled silently. She had met Prakash during one of such ‘discoveries’ when she was 25.
Once in the house, Nalin had to make peace with a male cat, ominous in black, its grey lady and their two kitties. They didn’t like him much, but, unlike dogs, didn’t make a whole show out of it.
Maya removed the sheer shawl she had used to step out and pulled a dupatta over her loose top and the long flowing skirt. Both the dresses were tailored from the same Chanderi material. Her silhouette at the backdrop of the fading daylight from the windows accentuated her pert physical contours. Her astral form was already sitting next to Nalin’s and canoodling. Nalin seemed to notice neither.
He picked up the day’s newspaper and flipped through its pages. “The government has lost it! Banning 500 and 1000 Rupee notes will stop black money! All drama! What shit?” Realising Maya’s audible proximity, he muttered, “Sorry, but it will be really inconvenient. My home branch is in Chennai. I have my plastics, but that may not always work at the places where I have to eat and sometimes, stay at night.”
“You can get some exchanged from me. My person will go to the bank tomorrow.” Maya cut him short as she didn’t wish demonetization to hog their conversation on this beautiful evening. “Tell me something about your experience.”
She sat on an ottoman opposite the sofa he was sitting after asking the maid to prepare two cups of herbal tea. “Or shall we sit outside in the balcony? It’s breezy and cooler there.”
“What do they call you?”
“Maya. Maya Prakash Rao.” Closer to him then, she smelled of sandalwood. “I am a practising witch,” Maya always loved the expression of shock when she told people about her parallel profession, “and a dancer!”
“I see,” Nalin responded as if in his line of work, having a cup of tea with a dancing witch was usual,
“You live here alone?”
Such indifference irritated Maya. “No, my spirits are there with me.” Her quip felt dumb as well.
“I see you have staffs. Such a vast and furnished house! You must be rich!”
“My husband was. Family wealth, plus his own from playback singing, and wise early investments – sails me through.”
“Was?” Nalin picked up what she wanted him to.
“He died in 2010.”
Maya never told anyone the way Prakash died. The family knew; some friends as well. Maya could never reconcile that despite her sensuality, her husband of 12 years had to look out. Why he could never explain. When Maya vexed him too much, he sought an escape – off the same ridge where she had found Nalin that evening.
“I had read somewhere that witchcraft is practised in current times for healing purposes. Do you heal for a fee?”
Nalin seemed to be well read. Maya was instigated.
“Who told you that? We witches can be pretty dangerous if we wish.”
“Have you ever wished so?” The herbal tea seemed to relieve Nalin of both stress and inhibition.
“And I shall share that with a rank stranger?” She smiled while sipping from her hot terracotta glass. Her eyes were looking up at Nalin’s face. This expression had worked many times in the past. It didn’t fail her. Nalin spilled a little brew on his trousers.
“Ah!” The tea was still hot.
“Did it burn? You are quite delicate for a roadie!” When a male ego was pinched, it always became vulnerable – ready for her to possess.
“Nah! It’s alright.” Nalin went back to his shell.
Silence hung between them briefly, as did the twilight outside.
“Show some pictures of your trip.” Maya feared that with conversation dying, Nalin may leave her in another wordless evening.
“Oh, I don’t click pictures,” Maya recalled that he was not clicking the sunset.
“Everyone with a half-decent mobile is a photographer these days, and you don’t click! I don’t believe this. Why?”
“That’s why! We are creating memories faster than consuming them. What will we do with so much surplus memory?” He smiled as if he had found something deep to engage and impress a matured Maya. “When I find something worthy, I relish that with my eyesight for a long enough time; like the taste of soup that you may eat for the first time or the smell after the first rain.”
Nalin had his gaze fixed to the dusk. Maya gauged his face. He was breathing like a sine wave of low frequency. He was almost oblivious to her physical presence. His indifference made her drop her last guard – the dupatta was put aside.
Nalin had perhaps realised that he had given away more of himself than he would have intended. He fell silent. Next half an hour passed with Nalin reminding Maya of the snails along the seashores; getting withdrawn and drawn out alternatively with a gut feel to save itself from a possible predator, yet itching to inch ahead.
After a while, he asked for another cup of tea. The maid had left for the day. Maya herself did the brew. The herbal concoction seemed to anchor the bohemian better than Maya’s feminine charms.
“I have to leave now. It’s already dark, and I have to find a place to stay.” He got up. “Can you really help me with change for 500 Rupee notes?”
It was last winter in London that she had gone to bed with an Iranian after a hurricane date. It had been long. She desired to be held in a warm male embrace. She wished to be desired again.
“I have a couple of guest rooms here. You can stay.” The last sentence was more of a command than an offer for a choice.
“Really? But you don’t know me at all.” He chuckled in disbelief to his good fate. “For all you know, I may be a serial killer targeting lonely, attractive and wealthy women with long tresses and who tilt their head slightly towards the right when they walk.”
“Wow! I am already feeling violated. You are quite scary!” Maya really had a shiver down her spine; the pleasure of being observed so keenly. “Thanks for the compliments, though! You are very kind.”
“How old will you be, max?”
“And impolite too!” Maya rolled her eyes with measured coquettishness, “I have a human security and four feline ones.”
She picked up one of the kitties and patted her. The grey and black kitty was not very impressed being woken out of slumber and resisted with her tiny paws. Nalin hated cats but loved where this evening promised to lead him to.
Nalin was tired, and the issue of worthless currency was a bother. He agreed to stay back.
The room assigned to Nalin was next to the terrace. He took a luxurious bath and slumped into the poster bed in his shorts, with the intent of a brief rest before dinner.
“9:00, I am an early dinner” Maya had instructed him over a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was heady, and Nalin was inexperienced in the finer ways of life. He got lulled into a slumber.
When he woke up, it was past midnight. He didn’t carry a mobile and had been quite confident of his body clock due to his intense practice of the gadget free life. On waking up, he felt hunger first and then, burning sensations near his groin.
Impulsively, he tried to touch the place and found that his wrists were tied to the bedposts. So were his ankles. He was stark naked.
The room was lit only with a red night lamp. “Ah, there wakes my sleeping beauty!”
Maya was pacing up and down in the room and chanting something in a language that didn’t make any sense to Nalin. She was wearing a flowing red nightgown that revealed more than it covered. Her head was wrapped in a black scarf, and her eyes were glowing, cat-like. Nalin was gagged.
After a few muffled groans and desperate agitations to wriggle himself out of the bondage, Nalin accepted his helplessness. His boy scout training prompted him to save his energy and wait for the opportunity to break loose.
Maya had a small whip, and occasionally during the chant, she was hitting Nalin’s fully aroused member with a puppy stroke. Pain and pleasure had merged their boundaries, and Nalin was unable to tell one from the other.
She was circling around him. He counted 10 before she stopped near her face and sat down. With one swift stroke, she removed the gag. Nalin was too stunned to shout. Her breasts were close enough to his face to smell the mingled aroma of sweat and eau de cologne. It was intolerable.
Maya stroked his hair. “Too much pain, baby?”
Nalin tried to shout but realised that it will be in vain. She must have sent off the security guard, or the room could be too sound proof for her to have any worries.
“You like bondage? You could have said so.” He hissed through his parched throat, “What is the point for such elaborate rape?”
“What?” Maya leaned sideways to listen to him, her nipples a few millimeters away from his gaping mouth. If he made it out of here, it would be an evening to tell about.
“Seems you are a fan of BDSM. Open me up, I can pleasure you in the ways you never…” He was stopped by a deep kiss and a tight slap across the face.
“I am not dying to get there, and you are not going anywhere in a hurry.” Maya stood up and poured herself a drink from an unnamed bottle. Nalin recalled that she had mixed his wine with liquid from a similar unnamed bottle, “My secret recipe, irons out all stresses”, she had said.
She gulped the full quart, belched and came near Nalin.“It’s a little experiment. I needed to test the potion, the duration of its effectiveness and antidote, if necessary,”
Nalin was amazed at the calm and professional way Maya was conducting herself. There was a soothing tranquillity in the room amidst deep fears and chaos inside his head. He was on the verge of losing his resistance and sanity to sleep, but sharp stings directly on his privates kept him alert.
“What are you testing me with?” The unusually large and full moon was peeping in through the curtains like a voyeur.
Maya had shed her dress by then and was chanting something in a weary monotone, her hands raised up as if in prayers.
“What are you trying to do with me? If it’s just sex, why such drama?”
Maya looked straight into him. Her face and body had lost the luster; the skin was wrinkled and saggy. It seemed the clock had fast-forwarded a few decades and Nalin could see an old and ailing woman with eyes on fire, pouring over his manhood. Even his coolness could take no more, he shrieked. The old hag gobbled his manhood with her toothless gum. She bit hard into it and stroked evenly till it bled and he climaxed. She swallowed it all.
When she lifted her face, her eyes had calmed down to usual. Nalin could see blood and sperm dripping down the corners of her lips. She smacked it clean. The pain and impulse that Nalin had felt a while ago gave his body such revolt, he noticed, that a wrist had got loosened from the tie.
The old woman stood with a hunch and was breathing fast. Chanting continued. Gradually, she stood up erect, sags and wrinkles got ironed out, and Maya was back. Nalin was blessed with a very healthy heart to have observed all this and be still breathing. Unnoticed, he had loosened his other hand as well and waited for Maya to come near him.
When Maya sat down silently near his head, it was her reassured self again. She had gathered her red gown modestly around her body. She was stroking Nalin’s hair with deep love and care when Nalin wrapped his freed fingers around her neck. Maya proved frail compared with the athletic toughness of Nalin. He squeezed her unconscious and threw her to the ground.
The knots around his ankles were messy and took him a few minutes to get out of those. He put on his clothes and searched for the keys to his bike in the dimly lit room. He didn’t want to switch on the lights and draw attention, lest the security guard turn out to be an accomplice to Maya.
After a few exasperating moments of search, the steel medallion on his key ring shone in the corner of the room. He grabbed it and his bag and rushed to open the door. Just when he had unlatched the door, a missile zoomed past him and crashed on the terrace. He had a narrow escape. Maya had regained her composure. She had thrown a glass of water aiming for his head.
The sound of glass shattering woke up a few night birds from a deep slumber on the nearby trees. An owl didn’t approve of this chaos and flew away cursing in loud screeches. No human voice was heard. The guard was either sleeping or away.
Maya came from behind and wrapped Nalin’s legs with all her might. Witchcraft and tantric practices gave her much more physical stamina than any other woman of her age and appearance. Nalin fell down on the ground and had to struggle hard to get away from her grip.
“I need you … … will weigh you in gold … full Supermoon night and a young man of 25 … don’t happen always … waited for five years to drink… from the fountain of youth … can’t let you go… two more rituals … please don’t leave, please” Her ranting was incoherent and shrill. Desperation made her mellifluous voice turn metallic again, much dull though. She sank her teeth into Nalin’s calves. Nalin lost balance and fell on his side.
Nalin reached out for a large piece of glass. He picked it up, swung it towards Maya in utter pain and despair. The shard hit her between chest and stomach on the left side. Maya’s loosened her grip with the impact. Nalin gathered himself up, ran helter-skelter down the stairs. The family of sleepy cats resting at different levels of the stairs looked at him with disgust and continued with their dreams.
He started his bike and didn’t even wait to think that there might be some traces of his identity that he should have erased. Two witnesses, other than the cats, had seen him with Maya. He would be the prime suspect, even if Maya bled to her death. He hit the road and continued his journey in the direction of his hometown Arrah in Bihar.
Maya was dying on the terrace. Six inches of glass shard was inside her abdomen. She was concerned that her cats and kitties should not find her bleeding. They had never tasted Wiccan blood. She was unsure of the effect of Supermoon and such blood might have on them. It was perhaps the recipe for the felines to turn into blood sucking beasts. They were her only family, and she couldn’t wish such fate for them.
Photo from the internet.
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