‘Take it slow,’ she said, ‘and try to make it last as long as you can’

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Illustrations: Mayanglambam Dinesh
Illustration: Mayanglambam Dinesh

I was finally about to lose my virginity. It was going to be that all-important first time, and I was nervous. As I climbed the staircase I had a dozen times before, I felt my anxiety translate strangely to guilt. Even as I hoped to remain discreet, I felt eyes on me every time a stranger passed me by on his way down. It was as if they could see the evidence of my culpability on my face. They knew why I was there that night.

It was quite chilly for an October evening in Kolkata. Yet my ballooning anticipation was made evident by the way I was severely perspiring — a far from ideal behaviour, I had heard someone say. In fact, there had been plenty of “hot tips” and “expert advice” going into tonight. “Take it slow, try to make it last longer,” someone said. “Make sure the music is right,” advised another veteran. I went through my mental notes one last time as I reached the penultimate floor.

Admittedly, I had imagined this scenario playing out a number of times with different persons in sundry circumstances. Reality, I had been warned though, might be underwhelming, even disappointing. But that had not dampened my excitement. I had long been trying to muster the courage and this time I knew I was ready.

My thoughts were already drifting towards likely conversations over breakfast on the morning after. I could almost guess what my friends reactions would be when I shared with them my nocturnal tale. Some jaws would drop in disbelief, some others would have a been-there-done-that attitude, and would lend their two cents on ‘post-match’ analysis. Others would simply dismiss the story. I had pre-empted their comments and my response to each. Tact and diplomacy came easily, the night’s “to-do” however, was a completely different ballgame. I knew I would win the next morning, but the night had to be won first.

Nobody likes a fumbling rookie. I couldn’t change the fact that I was a rookie, but I had prepared enough to ensure I wouldn’t fumble. I had read all the relevant articles in Man’s World and watched relevant tutorials on YouTube. The pitfalls and their repercussions were clear. The challenge was in masking the superficial knowledge that comes from hastily assimilated theory with the pretentious swagger of a rote performance. I was on to my last flight of steps.

I inspected the bottle of Old Monk in my hand, pondering one more time over my decision to get it. I had long debated the perceived impoliteness of arriving empty-handed and the glaring over-eagerness in attempting to go beyond the script. I finally decided to play it safe and at that moment, as I stood in front of the shut door, I was somehow convinced that I had taken the right call. My sweaty finger reached for the doorbell. I rang once, then a second time.

She greeted me with a smile, graciously accepting my bottle of expensive spirit. In a loosely hanging top to go with comfortable pyjamas, it was fair to say that she was dressed quite appropriately for the occasion. I followed her into the room where we were going to spend the last few hours of the night, and a few more of the following morning. I could see she had been preparing for this. While she excused herself for a bit, I sat there in eager anticipation. This is it!

She returned soon with a glass of my vodka in each hand. “Shall we?” she proposed. I leaned in, my heart pounding. I felt it on the lips first but the sensation travelled quickly beyond. I took a long drag and started coughing instantly. She smiled, “Take it slow, try to make it last longer.” I coughed a little more in response. Even as my scarred throat bruised further, I knew I was a weed virgin no more.

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