The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Short Story: The virgin whore

Painting by Shahabuddin Ahmed (from The Hindu)

By Rashid Askari

The tiny train compartment was crammed full. Passengers were packed like sardines. In next few seconds, the Ekata Express would pull out of the Kamlapur Station. The signal was hanging down. The departure bell had just rung. The lineman had blown a short blast on his whistle, which was drowned out by the shrill of the steam engine. With a small jerk, the train started crawling like a long centipede.

Seated at the window Bashanti was staring vacantly into the distance. A long line of old rusty lampposts, jerry-built buildings, sordid slums, dirty dustbins, and stagnant ditches, was darting past in the opposite direction at an equal speed with the train. The train was picking up speed. So were the sights on the railway line. And along with the flashing objects, it was putting an absolute nightmare behind Bashanti. So far, she was thick with tension. Now she was safe. She felt relieved to say goodbye to the oldest profession. She was able to breathe freely again even in the pack of passengers. It was beyond her wildest dream that a hustler could get the hell out of the call house. Trying to bolt from there was like banging her head against a brick wall. However, she did it.

It was a few weeks since the Pakistan occupation of Bangladesh on 25 March, 1971. Dhaka was taken over by the occupation forces that started perpetrating dreadful outrages against civilian population across the country. They waged genocide and arson, widespread rape and pillage. Their initial ascendancy left them with a sure sense of immunity to counter attacks. They felt relaxed. The sex-starved hounds did not want to mortify the flesh for an indefinite spell of time. They deemed that they were at ‘holy’ war. So the women of the occupied country could easily be their goods and chattels. Their lustful eyes first fell on the women of the bawdy house. The sitting ducks were very easy to hunt.

When the rumour swept through the red-light district that the marauding forces would seize Begum Bazaar in a surprise attack, Bashanti along with her teammates took a desperate attempt to flee. By wearing a yashmak, she broke free from the whorehouse. She might sell her body to earn her living, but she could not lie with the occupation squaddies for love or money. She had heard of many ghastly stories of their sadistic sex-assault. It made her hair stand on end when she learnt that their onslaughts would begin with biting off the chunks of flesh from the swells and curves of the female body, and sometimes end in going to the point of using the steel bayonets as their tools.

The piercing whistle of the train brought Bashanti back to the present. The train was screaming through the vast expanse of fields, greeneries, hills, and jungles. The metallic sounds produced by the friction between the moving wheels and the lying rails lulled her to recall the past. Suddenly a lot of pushing and jostling arose in the train. The passengers started shutting the doors and windows. The train was crossing the Gafargaon jungle. Rumours had it that the local bandits would lie in wait among the passengers, and suddenly swoop down on them and snatch their goods while crossing the jungle area. There had been a spate of robberies in the same train over the years. However, all this did give Bashanti no scare at all. The occupation raiders were a hundred times deadlier than the Gafargaon muggers. The robbers might at best rob her of money or goods, but would never ravish her to death.

The worst criminals of her country did not bear comparison to the occupation forces –Bashanti came to realize. Even Nibaron’s offence seemed forgivable to her. Although he was solely responsible for this cursed life of hers, but that perhaps did not cross the last limit to humanity. Maybe, Nibaron, too, did not know that the situation would take such an ugly turn. However, Bashanti still was ignorant of the reason why he failed to put a brave face on it!

Bashanti had never seen Nibaron before. She heard that the orphan boy, Nibaron Das, had fled the village in his adolescence. Everybody knew he had gone missing. His maternal grandmother cried her eyes out and died. After twenty years, one fine morning, a young dandy appeared in the village. He claimed himself as Nibaron. He wore a red bowler cap and dark glasses, and was clad in a skin-tight short-sleeved shirt with long folded collar hanging loosely like the ears of a goat. Shaking the curved end of his goat-ear collar, Nabaron asserted that he was somebody in the FDC (Film Development Corporation). Razzak, Kabari, Shabana, Faruk were his close pals. To take somebody to them was his piece of cake. But this luminary had no place of abode in his village. He took shelter in Bashanti’s.

One sunny day while Bashanti was on her way back from school, Nibaron caught her and tried to make a polite conversation.

‘Listen honey, what class are you in?’ Nibaron tried to coax a dalliance out of Bashanti.

‘Class nine.’ Bashanti stood still with her head down and eyes fixed on the ground at her feet.

‘That’s great! That’s really so great of you!’ Nibaron paid her a compliment, and tended to monopolize the conversation.

‘Do you know you are a paragon of beauty?’ Nibaron ran his eyes over her body – from head to foot.

The oval face got a good tan, and was looking purer with hair in pigtails.

Bashanti blushed crimson with embarrassment. Her head hung down more.

‘You’re very photogenic. OK, let me check.’

Nibaron chucked her under the chin, and lifted it to a little higher level so as to get a better view of her full face. He moved back with a quick jump, bent his knees, and struck a pose for a photographer making a rectangular camera-image with both thumbs in horizontal and index fingers in vertical position. The cameraman started twisting and turning around Bashanti, and pretended to take snaps from different angles with frequent clicks of his tongue.

Bashanti broke into peals of laughter.

‘I’ll take you to Dhaka. I’ll make you a film heroine.’ Nibaron struck the hot iron.

Bashanti came to Dhaka with Nibaron in search of fame and fortune. But she did not know that she brought her eggs to the wrong market. Nibaron took her to one aunt in Begum Bazaar. She was a big curvy woman scantily clad. Everyone called her Mashi (aunt). She was chewing betel-leaf and frequently spitting into a brass spittoon.

Mashi, this is Bashanti, from my village. She’s come to be a film heroine.’ Nibaron introduced Bashanti to the woman.

‘Ho, ho! What a number one thing you’ve brought, man!’ The woman gave a coquettish cackle swaying her large bosom seductively inside a see-through blouse.

‘I thank her lucky stars that a producer is coming here tonight. I’m cocksure he’d like her to death. In fact, he is looking for one like her.’ Mashi continued in a flirty manner. Bashanti thanked her god, and went for a wash and brush up.

The alleged producer came at dead of night. An old debauchee drunk as a skunk!

‘Where’s my virgin goddess? I’m bursting to see her. I want to worship her.’ He staggered to Bashanti’s room. The door slammed shut, and detached itself from the rest of the world.

The next dawn broke over Begum Bazaar with a new episode. Bashanti was reborn in the twilight zone on the fringes of society. She had had a bloody birth last night at the hand of the producer. He gave her the new name. He gave her many things, and took many things too. He was overjoyed at the success of his mission. He was in his seventh heaven. He assumed a triumphant air as if he had stormed the Bastille, and conquered the Death Valley at one go. It was a great victory on the part of an old crock like him! He bought virgin blood for cash. Really the Hindu girls were sweeter than the Muslim ones. He claimed to be a devout Muslim. He disliked everything of other religions except for women. He loved to graze in others’ fields leaping over the fence. He became the right producer of Angurbala.

Bashanti could not be the heroine of the film, but Angurbala became the queen of the whorehouse. She was the first choice of their clients. She sometimes tried to flee. But all her efforts were in vain. Then she accepted it as a part of her life. Actually, it was a blind alley. For unclaimed maids like Bashanti there was only entrance to it, but no exit. Bashanti, however, was no more so naïve as to believe what she was told by the likes of Nibaron. She had learnt by experience, and grown worldly wise. She had seen the ugly faces of the male animals in the society called ‘gentlemen’ from close quarters. She had fully known all possible varieties of their sexual behaviour with all their exceptions. She wondered how human societies are running under such false pretences. Age, skin, status – nothing matters to the human dogs while aroused.

Bashanti saw the house of ill-fame as a secret rendezvous for many famed persons. People from all social strata and age groups used to pay a call on her if the occasion arose. The adolescents would come for curiosity, the young for change, and the old for perversion. Among all, the old goats were most irritating. They were more interested in the incidentals. Like beetles they would crawl across the whole body, and eat up much time. But they were good payers. Sometimes Bashanti would be visited by strange people. Once came a poet. He was tall and thin with sideboards and goatee, and had dreamy look in the eyes. Through his thick-framed glasses, he looked at Bashanti, and proposed a weird bid.

‘I want to buy an interview with you. I need at least five sittings. I’ll just talk to you, and do nothing else. Don’t worry about money. You’ll be overpaid.’ The poet directly threw his proposal at Bashanti.

Bashanti was combing her hair holding a hairclip in teeth. She pulled her hair back into a tight bun, and gave him a blank stare.

‘What do you need it for?’

‘I am going to write a poem on the fallen women. I want it to be fully realistic. I don’t want to abuse my imagination.’ The poet affirmed unequivocally.

Bashanti did not decline the offer. The poet kept on coming for seven consecutive days, and on the last day asked for her hand.

Bashanti did not say anything. She looked cold and distant. She banged the door in his face. The poet stood mute and motionless.

The train stopped at Bahadurabad Ghat station in the small hours. The passengers would cut across the Jamuna by ferry to catch the connecting train at Fulchhari Ghat. They were running in their hordes to occupy the ‘first come first served’ seats in the ferry. Bashanti hurled herself into the crowd. All on a sudden there sprang up a stampede towards the ferry as some military jeeps appeared. The crowd vanished into the dark. Bashanti got struck by a jolt of fear. She tried to take to her hills, but was stuck in the sand. One army man approached her like a rutting dog smelling out a mate. He looked her up and down.

‘It seems it’s a chick.’ He raised her veil, and flashed a torch on her face.

‘Wow! What a ripe apple!’ The army man let out a groan of pure lust.

‘You’re smacking of a Hindu chick. Aren’t you a Hindu?’ He leaned over, and whispered in her ear.

Bashanti nodded. The army man seemed to have gone randy. He held her hand tight, and started pulling her along behind him. Bashanti tried unsuccessfully to twist free. Her sari was taken off in the scuffle. She was brought to the ferry deck only with her blouse and petticoat on. Nearly thirty military men were there on the deck. Shafts of lust were piercing through her half naked body. She was a tender hind ringed by a pack of hungry wolves under the open sky.

The ferry started up with Bashanti hemmed in by the wolves ogling at her with salivary tongues lolling in lust. They were dancing around her. The gap between them was narrowing unhurriedly. Bashanti stepped backwards with faltering steps. Both her arms were pinioned behind her back. She propped herself up against the iron-railing which was only waist-high. She gazed into the murky depths of the water. The muddy stream of Jamuna seemed to be calling her. She remembered the mother goddess. Her worst fears were realized when an army man drew nearer to her with a demonic smile. The bayonet fixed on to the end of his rifle gleamed in the dark. Bashanti bent her body over the railing, and threw herself into the water. The body was sucked down into the whirlpool made by the propellers of the ferry on the move. The army man’s jaw dropped. He fired several shots from his rifle. Bashanti was sinking headlong into the deep waters like a harpoon-hit mermaid. She knew she was nearing the end of her life. But she felt happy to think that she was still virgin. She had not been defiled by the alien beasts!

Bio:
Dr. Rashid Askari is a bilingual writer, fictionist, columnist, media personality and the current vice-chancellor of Islamic University, Bangladesh. He emerged as a writer in the mid-1990s and has written seven books and numerous articles/essays which have been published at home and abroad. His two Bengali books, Indo-English Literature and Others (Dhaka 1996) and Postmodern Literary and Critical Theory (Dhaka 2002) and two English books, The Wounded Land (Dhaka 2010), and the edited book, English Writings of Tagore, 3 vols (Dhaka 2012), deserve special mention. His short fiction collection Nineteen Seventy One and other stories (Dhaka 2011) has been translated into Hindi and French. Email: rashidaskari65@yahoo.com

***

Like Cafe Dissensus on Facebook. Follow Cafe Dissensus on Twitter.

Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.

***

Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Hatred and Mass Violence: Lessons from History”, edited by Navras J. Aafreedi, Presidency University, Kolkata, India.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Short Story: The virgin whore”

  1. Saurabh Srivastava

    So we’ll crafted the pain & agony of female companion coming from minority community with the awesome presentation of lust and greed of the militia with fanatic fervour ,,, really it stuck to my conscious !!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply to anawadhboyspanorama Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: