Winter was slowly setting its feet in Punjab, a state of the rich in the north western region of India. Winter means the season of weddings in Northern India. And that’s where I was too, with my family in the city of Ludhiana, Punjab . While we lived far away in Mumbai, my sister’s wedding was to happen in Ludhiana and we were staying at my Aunt’s in her mammoth 8 bedroom bungalow.
It was my second day there and my older cousin Sandeep Singh and I had plans to go for a walk in one of the parks in the neighbourhood.
Although belonging to a Sikh family, Sandeep , like me and many other modern Sikh boys, had chosen against keeping the hair long and wearing a turban.
After shaving his face, Sandeep wanted to have a glass of milk before we headed out. He walked in the kitchen on the first floor of his bungalow.
Seconds later, without a warning, I heard a deafening sound of a hard slap coming from the kitchen. Moments later, Sandeep came out of the kitchen whistling and smiling, asking me if I was ready to leave for the park. When my bhabhi (Punjabi for a brother’s wife) appeared from the kitchen, she seemed ashamed to make eye contact with me as she hurriedly walked into the other room. I had, however, managed to catch a glimpse of the trail of tears on her red cheek.
Sitting next to Sandeep in his car, we drove through the markets of the bustling city of Ludhiana as the sun was slowly setting somewhere behind the jaded concrete buildings. As the aromas of various street foods entered our car through the rolled down windows, I was trying very hard to construct a question in my head that I was going to ask my cousin Sandeep that wouldn’t offend him.
Here was a man my siblings and I had adored growing up. He had an amazing sense of humour and he always had shown great warmth towards us all whenever we visited him. We would tease him, crack the meanest of jokes on him and he would always respond with a laugh. What a great sport he was!
So why did this kind, funny man, hit his wife?
‘Paaji, ( Punjabi for elder brother) what did bhabhi do that you had to slap her ?’
He made a sharp turn abusing a passerby who was blocking his way in chaste Punjabi. Then he looked at me with a smirk.
‘The milk wasn’t as hot as I wanted’
‘What, that’s it?’
He had stopped smiling. I could see another man slowly taking his place in his big protruding eyes.
‘A husband should hit his wife whenever he sees an opportunity. What I did today is called a maintenance slap. Just to keep her in check. If you be too nice to them for too long, they wouldn’t let you breathe man!’
This was 16 years ago, I was about 20 years old then and I still remember not being able to completely process the good intentioned advice from my cousin, who must have been around the age of 30 then.
In coming days, he had asked me to accompany him to his work.
Soon, I found out that work meant hanging out with various guy friends talking about one topic the whole day- Sex! He had bought quite a few shops from his inherited money which made him good money through rents. It meant he could afford not working and could just loaf around with his other rich brat friends the whole day.
Then I asked him a question. It was actually more of small talk than a serious question. But the answer he gave me still lingers inside me somewhere.
‘So Paji , when are you going to really start working ? This all must get boring after a point, no? What are your plans for work?’
I was sitting pillion on his scooter. The muffler wrapped around his neck was constantly brushing my face as he rode fast through the dusty lanes as we were headed back to his home. He turned his head enough towards me , so that he could be heard clearly,
‘the plan is simple boy. For the next two years, main sirf fuddi maarni aa !’ ( the plan is simple. For the next two years, I will just hit as many pussies as I can ! )
I remember thinking about what Sandy had said before I slept that night. Here I was, with my over calculating, over worrying mind over-thinking about my career plans and everything else about my life .And I was only 20. And then there was Sandeep. A 30 year old married man, with a 5 year old son who was only going to fuck as many women as possible for the next two years. I had to give him full marks for his clarity of thought!
And he had referred to sex as ‘hitting the pussy’ . It occurred to me that night that, while all this meaningless sex wasn’t obviously about love, it wasn’t about satisfying a sexual urge either. It surely had something to do with masking some sort of hidden inferiority complex. The more pussies you hit, the better a man you are. It had to do with some twisted definition of being a male in his mind.
For the next one month, I would accompany Sandeep to his various sex destinations. A short married woman working in a gift shop; a young employee working in Travel Company, a hospital nurse and many more. He ensured he never ran out of Condoms, Viagra and cheap adult magazines. I would wait outside in his car or sit on the scooter as he would ‘hit the pussy’ and return in about half an hour. His target was 5 women a day, but he would often reach three or four on good days.
One afternoon, when Sandeep returned from ‘hitting the pussy’ of the girl working in a travel company , he just couldn’t stop giggling . When I enquired , he told me with a lot of pride in his eyes that the girl had refused sex as her office cabin was occupied by the others, so he ‘hit her pussy’ in the very tiny bathroom of the office . Short on time and space, he used a small blade to cut open her Salwar ( loose pants that most women in India wear to go with a long knee length shirt ) from between her legs to fuck her. He said he felt like a Lion who never lets go of its prey.
On Valentine’s day , the ‘married woman from the gift shop’ gifted Sandeep a small box which had a silly, cotton made heart along with a perfume bottle. As he sat at the wheel of the car, he had tossed the box at the back seat of the car, mouthing choosiest of expletives after he had smelled the hideous perfume.
Later in the evening, at the traditional dance function at my Sister’s wedding, Sandeep gave the box to his wife during a round of couple’s dance.
As Sandeep’s wife saw her husband sitting on a knee, giving her a Valentine’s gift, she couldn’t stop smiling. It was the second occasion when i saw tears in her eyes.
When she opened the box and smelled the bottle, she pretended to have loved the perfume!
Everyone clapped and for the rest of the evening she couldn’t take her eyes off of her charismatic and romantic husband.
I could see, she had that look on her face. The look, when a woman wants her man to passionately ‘hit her pussy’.
Harpal Mahal is the author of the comedy novel, I Know What Women Want, published with Srishti Publishers. He has authored two Audio books, Detective Giri and Kaali Raat for StoryTel India. For the same house he has written two Audio singles, Beimaan Raat and Oh Karishma!
Apart from writing books he has written Screenplay and Dialogues for various short films released on digital platforms.