A Short Story by Deepali Sagar

He moved his fingers in my hair, and I closed my eyes. He kept playing with the ends of my hair and I bit my lip so that I could stifle my moan. Slowly and steadily his hand caressed my neck and involuntarily I arched backwards. His lips were mere inch apart from me…
“And cut! Fabulous shot Sanaya. Let’s wrap up guys; we’re done for the day.”

Some random girl handed me my robe and without making an eye contact, I moved towards my green room. I locked myself and stared at the looking glass. Heavily kohl eyes, cheeks flustered with top brand blush, lips made seductive with amazing plum colour lipshade and body draped in an exquisite gown… This was me. Shanaya Seth. A Model. Honestly, a model who was mostly called for lingerie/nude shots. But I am still a model.

Why did I become one? I even have forgotten the reason now. I came to this country hoping to make a life for myself. From doing odd jobs, I ended up here. When I was first called for an audition, I thought that I had made something big for myself. However, the moment I got to know what was the real deal, I left… only to come back again and this time I didn’t leave or I should say I couldn’t leave. Looking back I tend to laugh that people used to call my waitress job as an odd job. I wonder what they would think about my profession now. However, it has ceased to matter. The reason I started doing this in the first place, left me all alone, to fend for myself. It wasn’t like that that I didn’t want to return, but then the clutches were so strong and the leash around my neck was so tight that I couldn’t return. Nor do I want to now.

Hurriedly I removed my makeup. More than my job, I hated the fact that I had to be decked up like a doll. Everyday I was being turned into a commodity who had to be clicked infinite times and was relished by numerous men. Initially it used to make me feel cheap, now I don’t feel like anything. The moment I step inside the studio, it seems like my conscious leaves me and I’m nothing more than a piece of meat who is grilled and served beautifully to the potential customers as an entrée. It’s not like that there aren’t photographers who click my nudity aesthetically. Frankly, if it hadn’t been them, I would have lost myself a long ago. But still, the moment I walk nude in front of the crew, I can sense eyes scrutinising my every move, every inch of my body, it seems like I can read their malicious thoughts too, and that’s what makes me cringe.

I put my car in ignition and left. In order to bury the sounds in my head, I turned on the music. My favourite… Papon songs. Listening to Hindi songs in foreign land has its own charm. Khumaar… it not only soothed my inner conflict but clamed me too. My stomach growled and I recalled that the groceries at my place had almost finished. I fished my bag for the list and on finding the same, I turned my car towards the departmental store.

Even though I wasn’t quite renowned in my career, still I believed in taking every precaution possible. I wore my spectacles, tied my hair in a messy bun and removed any trace of makeup that was left on my face. I checked myself in the mirror and was happy that I looked exactly like myself. Even though I was in US, and was a model here, still the values with which I grew up haven’t left me at all. Taking a trolley for the items, I entered into the departmental store. My profession had out lately made me damn finicky. Every time I step outside my house, it feels as if people’s eyes are on me. As if they know the real me. They don’t believe this get up that I wear as my second skin. Even though it’s basically the notion that my brain has started believing, I can sense as well as see mischievous grin on every male’s face as soon as I pass by them… like they are scrutinising me… trying to assess what I actually might look alike.

I avoided every gaze that my brain signalled was directed towards me. Hastily, I stuffed all the necessary groceries and literally rushed towards the cash counter. Once the bill was generated, with same speed I fled towards my car and rushed as if there was some stalker after me. Once I was far away from the maddening crowd, in the company of my own self that I heaved a sigh of relief. I hated the sheer self-doubt that my profession had endowed me with. I knew it wasn’t a big deal, still somehow it was and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I reached my safe abode, my small but still my very own apartment. I quickly unloaded the grocery bags and went inside.

My apartment had a frugal look considering to what all I can earn. I placed the grocery bags in the kitchen, put the kettle on gas and made a cup of coffee for myself. With that I got comfortably settled near the fireplace on a small yet comfortable mattress. I covered myself with a duvet and laid back peacefully. Years have passed since I came here for the first time. At that time, I was different and so was the need. But with passage of time, the need changed and probably so did I.

I looked at myself in the mirror. Have I really changed? I untied my hair and they fell like a cascading waterfall over my shoulder. It made me smile. I again looked at the mirror. Not really. I don’t think I’ve changed. I’m still the same girl who came to this land hoping that she would make a mark for herself. I ignored the path where my conscience was ready to drag me, and opened my book, ‘Social Psychology’. I tried to read it, but my mind wasn’t there anymore.

I always dreamt of becoming a model but somehow not a nude model. I wanted to be portrayed as an art. Art… that evokes emotion in you, art that makes you look at the beauty. Nudity is an art too… I totally believe that, but then the minds aren’t that developed that they can see beauty behind nudity rather than viewing the model as a mere piece of flesh. Like everyone I had come to this land hoping that I would scale new heights. But then call it need for survival or the need to remain floating; I ended up doing this. I still remember how I landed up here. I am beautiful and this isn’t something I’m modest about. So, once I was working when a lady from a renowned modelling agency approached me. Next day I found myself sitting on a plush chair of a mahogany table. It was then it was told me what kind of modelling did they want from me. I did it thinking that it may be my big break and I may end up achieving my dream. Trust me, I did too. I became a model. But a Nude Model! I still tell myself that it isn’t that bad, but the mind has reasoning of its own. So, I’ve stopped making it understand anything.

I look at my phone as there was a notification. The message made me cough and my whole being shuddered with a familiar yet unknown feeling. I looked at the watch. There was still sometime before he would make his grand entrance. I put on my apron and played my favourite songs. It was time to make dinner for the Date.

I met Arindam while I used to work as a waitress and was struggling to become a model. He used to work as a Trainee Doctor in the hospital right in front of the café where I worked. He used to come there was his regular caffeine shots. At first he used to come in group, then he started visiting alone. I don’t even remember clearly how we started talking. All I remember is that within no time I started sitting on his table right next to him and we used to talk for hours. Did I fall for him? Don’t know. Have I started loving him? Can’t say. Trust me he’s not an ideal guy to be in love with. He’s no doubt exciting, charming, dangerous as hell, but not someone with whom anybody would want to invest their emotions because them she would be left empty handed. He would rob you of every emotion, every feeling, would make you crave for more but might not be there for a refill.

I smiled at myself. Sometimes, people are destined to be doomed. He was my apocalypse. I knew my end is near whenever I’m with him, but the ecstasy that this knowledge gives me is much livelier than any drug can offer me. The pasta was cooking, so I decided to tidy up the house. I stacked my books at one corner and lit a few candles. He’s the only one whom I told what do I do for living. Frankly, I expected him to leave disgusted but he just sat there, as if trying to apprehend every word that I uttered. I could sense that he wanted to make the atmosphere a bit light after my monstrous confession, but all he could manage was, “Is there anybody prettier than you, or do I’ve to find someone else if we broke up?”

I wanted to laugh but his last two words ‘broke up’ formed a lump in my throat. Not that I was afraid that if we ever broke up, but I was suddenly conscious as I didn’t even know that we were dating. We had no formal entry into a relationship. After few coffees and dinners, it didn’t take him long enough to get an invitation to my house. After that whenever it was his off, we started spending it together. We started going on trips, met his friends occasionally and when we had no other plan, we just used to lie down in each other’s arms feeling a strange completeness in whatever we were sharing.

I checked the calendar and realised that my exams were approaching. I smiled again. It was one such date when we started discussing a case. I don’t even know when the discussion about the case turned to psychology. It was then he suggested that I should hone my knowledge about psychology by enrolling myself into Masters in Psychology course. I loved the idea as psychology had always mesmerised me. Moreover, I’ve never been a person of one dream only. So, before I knew, I was enrolled in the course.

Arindam scared me. He had layers. The moment it felt like I know him fully, he would reveal a side of his that I never even knew existed. There were things I wanted to know about him, but somehow I wasn’t allowed to ask. And the way he looks at me… I never ever felt so damn Naked. Even with layers of clothes, it feels like he can see right through me. There have been times when I wanted to break up with him, not because he wasn’t good to me but because of the fact that he would lead me to such a place from where there is no coming back. I’m frightened to be at his mercy. I’m scared that I would find myself stranded at such a place from where I can never return. He’s like a dense forest. One you enter, you just end up going further deeper and all the chances of you coming back to your home are lost.

Everything was ready. The dinner was ready to be feasted upon. The house was decorated in such a way that it would not only welcome him with open arms, but would also soothe his tensions. I was waiting. Waiting in apprehension that I feel whenever we are meeting. It’s like a panic attack that rises within me. Fear of something unknown. And this fear is so deep that most of the times I don’t even open my mouth in front of him but just look at him with awe struck eyes. There are times when I’m jealous of girls who can talk at ease with him, while I’ve to struggle for every breath while being with him in the same room. I wonder how they are sure that he would be with him for the rest of their lives while I’m not even sure if the next day I would see him or not. However, I’ve kind of made myself believe one thing:

‘Some people are like wave, they come all the time but they are never really yours.’

Try and remember how do you react when you are on a beach and see vast expanse of water in front of you? Don’t you act like a child? Don’t you play with the waves as if you are seeing water for the first time? Don’t you feel like taking that sea with you? But can you take it? Not really. It stays with you till it wants. That’s Arindam for me. There are times when I want to decipher all of him, take him with me everywhere… but that’s just not possible. With any other guy it may be possible, but with Arindam, I can just dream… a dream that can never be reality.

The bell rang and I was sure that I suffered a mild heart attack. I took a deep breath and opened the door. He smiled and I felt myself melting on the floor. Tiredness was evident from his eyes. He closed the door and rather than stepping inside, he just hugged me as if he needed the support to stand properly. I could sense him nuzzling my neck and my heart raced to a new frequency level.
“Dinner is ready,” I whispered to bring some distance in between us so that I could breathe properly.

He looked at me as his eyes clearly told me what he had in his mind. Back in my room, he carefully undressed me. Unlike my modelling, these moans were real. While he was undressing me, I didn’t feel cheap but I felt vulnerable. Tears welled in my eyes. His fingers moved on my body and it felt like they left a burning trail all over my body. It was getting too much to handle. It didn’t feel like that he was making love to me, but it felt like he was merging in my body, making us one. The sheer pleasure as well as the feeling was exquisite and couldn’t be described. I just hugged him close, because that was all I was capable of.

The short story continues here......