How Stellar got her Groove back

The bookslut is a woman trained in arcane arts. You can get by in the world with irony deficiency, be competent, brilliant even. You can climb mountains, raise children, swim like a fish and build statistical models. Nowhere did it say in the classroom of "How to get on in life" that you need to spot irony at 100 yards. It certainly did not tell you to twist your conversation towards the perfect pun. Or the quoting of the utterly flawless, sinuous couplet. The handbook did not say that the quoting of Dorothy Parker makes you a better person.

But the bookslut raised in a hothouse of pages was beginning to feel like a geisha in post-war Japan. What's a girl to do if no one wants her special skills? That which she has been trained for since early childhood was redundant, forgotten, waiting to be revived by a woman in an NGO-black sari and a bright patchwork bag. She was a lost cause, she sighed. Could she do the Shakira in a faux Polynesian disco? Perhaps on good days...but she did know how to translate the lyrics of La Tortura. In a flurry of sighs she saw her youth flying by. There was no one in the world to whom she could say, "We must stop meeting like this," or " I bet you say that to all the girls." Where was the man who knew the cue to guffaw in response to cliches fluttering like mink eyelashes? Instead youthful masculinity stared back at her with the post-botox calm.

And then one day. And then one day. The words that were the wheels that drove a story forward. The bookslut's lively curiosity and pariah friends turned out to be better than an NGO. Because they opened for her with light-fingers, tumblers and acrobats the world of online dating. A world where words could reveal you for the wicked voluptuary that you are or merely the girl who had missed two Sundays of catechism.

And in the world of online dating was also where hid the men whose love had too many names. It was a love that was about names. About naming this feeling, this story, this object, this shiny rock and that dull person. It was a world where men used words like metonym and exegesis casually and flexed their libraries. A world where you had to be ashamed for not being able to compare the movie with the book. But the bookslut was ready! This was what she was born for. Headlong she dived sure that the waters would embrace her.

And she was right. Swiftly she sought out the real knights from the ones with merely hearty typing skills. Beyond the 'lols' she looked for the courtiers who would be serenaded and who would serenade.
And they were there suddenly appearing in the garden like elves. The skilled and slick and deeply worded. The punsters and the poets and the obsessed. The one who ate once a day to buy ten books shaming even the bookslut. The ones who were harsh and the ones who gushed. The ones who played lightly and the ones who clutched with claws.

She drew a deep contented breath and thought to herself

"Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast."

But where was the Farishta/Shaitan?

When Kannan appeared it seemed like he was the one. At the tips of his elegant tapering fingers was Ka. His skin was stained dark from years of swimming in the monsoon sea of books. She recognized a fellow-adept and made the ritual greeting.

bookslut (12/31/2005 1:10:04 AM): what are you reading this week?

thirdeye (12/31/2005 1:10:50 AM): shalimar the clown, a biography of stalin, a history of the enlightenment and commentary on Kants critique of Pure Reason

thirdeye (12/31/2005 1:11:45 AM): and a biography of shakespeare by peter ackroyd

bookslut (12/31/2005 1:12:06 AM): a nice hefty tote-bag

She felt herself growing aroused.  She could smell herself. She reeked of Anais Nin. 

The moment required too much for her. Kannan would pass on if not captivated. She checked her arsenal of quivering arrows. The simple weapons of Nash, Nandy and Milligan, the more complex charms of pop culture and etymology...she let them loose at Kannan with less than her customary confidence. Though Pippa passed Kannan stopped. Panache had shone through. 

And then began the duello. The dance. She searched for the the third phrase to name the encounter as is required by ears trained in Anglo-Saxon rhythm and drew a blank. Focussing on him she drew on years of geishahood. Here at last was what one worth his weight in dictionaries. And she would not lose from nerves.

On the balcony she let down Sierva María de Todos los Ángeles's stream of living hair the intense color of copperShe bathed in red earth and pouring rain. She was the cinnamon peeler's wife saying, "Smell me." She was the trapeze artist in silver asking amidst gales of laughter, "Am I bananas? Am I a poet?"

For weeks they played, their fingers flying over keyboards, moving from page after page of google, back and forth to small, white fields in yahoo or msn to talk. But was it talking? Bookslut was careful to make her offerings seem casual though fragrant. It was only accidental that he found her in this electronic garden posing seductively against bookshelves. How was he to about the frantic search for a digital camera, the frenzied uploading? Instead she was languid in greeting, frivolous in departure. But Kannan...he seemed to draw closer and closer. At least their toes touched one dawn.  

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:26:34 AM): I feel like I am chewing on the universe in all of my many stomachs

bookslut (2/14/2006 2:26:56 AM): see...that's the thing...writers are so greedy

bookslut (2/14/2006 2:27:20 AM): and i am even worse...because i want instant gratification

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:27:32 AM): I am greedy. I want everything. 

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:27:47 AM): what else is worth living for?

bookslut (2/14/2006 2:28:00 AM): nothing *smile*

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:28:31 AM): instant gratification plus everything is a rather dangerous desire

bookslut (2/14/2006 2:28:59 AM): i know 

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:29:05 AM): But I know that feeling of "I want it all and I want it now"

thirdeye (2/14/2006 2:33:05 AM): what are you wearing?

Thus began another phase. Another phrase. They met, they copulated, fucked, screwed at dawn, dusk, afternoon, in sunlight with laptops and under tubelights with PCs. Words flowed like rivers of come. The bookslut resented every moment without electricity, every room without broadband, every hour that she need to sleep.

She dreamt of the day when she could whisper the words into his ears and laugh. There were words that she spoke in other languages. Her words held in reserve away from the keyboard. Names she had heard as a child in faraway towns and nearby villages. Words in Spanish and Tamil and Malayalam and Kannada and words made only of love. But she held them back for the pithy Anglo-Saxon that had won Kannan's heart.

The end came when she least expected it. A distracted evening full of "Not at my desk" and brbs later they had a desultory chat. They did not *kiss* or even *hug* At last he said, 

thirdeye  (3/10/2006 9:53:47 AM): IGTG. Too much time on the net

bookslut (3/10/2006 9:54:59 AM): goodnight then pretty one

thirdeye (3/10/2006 9:55:25 AM): hush. dont be so forward!

bookslut (3/10/2006 9:55:37 AM): *startled*

thirdeye (1/10/2006 9:56:12 AM): I am married. I can't do this anymore.

Though calm, inside the bookslut was in mythological agony. Kannan did after all incite some of the more famous lies in Indian history. He was only telling the story he knew. But the sordid appalling predictability of this narrative convention. The truth was that sticks and stones could break her bones but boring names were really what hurt her. And here was a phrase that she could not deal with. An old chestnut.

It was easy to play Shiva to her wordly Parvati. A syllabic god who  promised to copulate for 300 years. A promise made and broken like piecrust the three seconds before logging off. It was not easy she saw to love even in this special parallel universe. She had not been tossed aside lightly but flung with great force

But the Word did prevail and sometimes bad girls do have a good time without being eaten by foxes, dying in debtors' prison or pushed onto a railway track.

In the next episode:
Will the Fish Meet the Bicycle? Does the Bicycle have  a bell or brakes?


Newer Post Older Post Home