Mini was braiding her hair that afternoon with the precision of a skilled artisan. Our conversation had lulled soon after she had told me about last September. She was in Delhi at the time and was training for her new job. Things between us were sour back then and we were no longer close friends we used to be before we became lovers.
This morning Mini had called asking me whether I was occupied today or was it possible for me to see her before she left for Delhi next week. Uncertain about the nature of the request, I had agreed, though a part of me still wished to turn my face away from the woman who had spurned my love. When she opened the door I noticed that she had just bathed. She welcomed me by putting one arm around me as a result my face was immediately submerged in her damp, citrus smelling hair.
She took me to her room and I sat down on her bed. I knew immediately that she had been measuring her words for long. Slowly she began to comb through her hair and asked me if I needed water and that her mother is making snacks for us.
“Is everything okay?” I asked her.
I felt that it needed to be asked, I was afraid somewhere that Mini had been asking herself the same question and was not sure of the answer anymore.
She looked up and looked away, not pausing as she combed her hair.
“Remember last September when we had just broken up and I had left for Delhi soon after for training?”
She didn’t wait for me to answer.
“I met someone during my training. She was one of the team leaders responsible for the training. She was quite lovely and soon enough we were exchanging numbers and talking all night. I know how this sounds Sarla but you know things between us were over before any of us ever admitted it. I don’t want to seem callous about our relationship because I know how much it meant to me. I didn’t love her, she was lovely but she was also a very different person. Talking to her was delightful because I was lonely in Delhi and she became a friend, though I had imagined that there was a possibility of taking things further.
“So we went on dates and kissed a few times and it was all going great. I was settling into the job as well as the city and I had her to give me company on off days and nights.”
She finally stopped combing her hair and started rubbing her hands on her thighs. She laced her fingers together and still didn’t demand a response from me. I wasn’t sure what to tell her either.
“One afternoon she came over and asked me if I wanted to have sex. I agreed. While in the middle of it both of us realized that I wasn’t wet. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was. Soon her touch on my skin became urgent and harsh and I pushed at her asking her to leave me for some time and wait. She didn’t stop immediately and kissed me to hold me down, until I pushed forcefully. She let out a sigh and then chuckled, told me –‘You’re such a small town prude Mini.’
At this point Mini went quiet. She shifted around so she was sitting facing away from me. She reached out and held my hand without looking at me and I squeezed her hand.
“Something about all of it irked me, as if she expected me to be a prude and was somehow trying to prove her point by trying to have sex with me. But I never questioned her intents more than I was questioning my own body. Why did I feel guilty about saying no? In college we were surrounded by debates like how your body is your own and all that jazz. My body felt cold to me, as if I owed more to someone else than I did to myself and that saying no isn’t an option for me. I never felt so helpless and out of control as I did in that moment Sarla. I felt scared. I still do. I avoid thinking about that exact moment and for long I have been struggling to open up and talk about something that still in its moments affect me to a large extent.”
Later when she was done braiding her hair, Mini and I sat in silence, holding hands. Today, I think, all she really wanted was some comfort.