The condom failed them. Aisha became pregnant.
“Oh, fuck!” was Anand’s spontaneous reaction. He didn’t mean it to be vulgar, Aisha knew. Boys and girls in the college used the word with a vast array of meanings and meaninglessness. It was the most popular word on the campus as it encapsulated a kaleidoscopic range of meanings and feelings. The word also referred to the most popular pastime on the campus. Aisha wondered whether it was after a visit to their campus that Bill and Melinda Gates decided to offer a $1 million-funding to anyone who can produce the “next generation condom” which would make the popular pastime as pleasurable as if there were no condom. And foolproof too, hoped Aisha. Not like the one that had ditched her.
“No tension,” said Anand with such a bindaas attitude that for a moment Aisha thought he was an ambassador of Manappuram gold loan. “There are gynaecologists who will fuck any pregnancy just like that for a few gandhis.” He snapped his fingers.
‘Gandhi’ was the campus slang for a five hundred-rupee note.
“I’m afraid,” Aisha heard herself muttering. Will it be painful? That’s what she was primarily afraid of. Pain is not something she was familiar with. There was no luxury in the world that her father, Hameed, could not buy her without touching the black money he had stashed away in some Swiss banks. Hameed would not allow pain to come anywhere in her neighbourhood.
Hameed had come to the city as a young man possessing nothing more than an extra pair of clothes and high school education. He started as a daily wage labourer in a construction company. Today his own construction company is worth a few hundred crores of rupees. A few cases of cheating were filed against him by some people who were his clients. But such cases mean nothing in this country when you’ve acquired a certain stature – economically or politically.
“There’s nothing to fear,” said Anand rather contemptuously. As a Rajput he was very proud of the bravery that his ancestors had bequeathed him. He boasted quite often that the history of his family could be traced back to Paramara who restored the stolen kamadhenu to its owner, Vashisht maharshi. It’s funny, mused Aisha, that the cow was stolen by another maharshi, Vishvamitra. We do have a very motivating heritage. No wonder Anand’s father is a successful politician of a national party that takes much pride in the nation’s cultural heritage which is presumed by his party to be under constant threat from Islamic Pakistan. Mr Karan Parmar, Anand’s father, would never accept a Muslim girl for a daughter-in-law. His Rajput ancestry would condemn it as treason to have his son marry a Muslim girl. A Khap Panchayat would be summoned and the greyest-haired or baldest-headed khap leader would pronounce the verdict, his breath reeking of hate: “Death to the offenders.” Mr Parmar’s black money that has not made its way to a Swiss bank yet will buy the life of his son from the khap warriors. Justice is a blindfolded lady.
But who wants to marry Anand, now? Aisha chuckled. She had never imagined herself as Anand’s wife. Whatever happened between them was a natural part of the mechanics of enjoyment that prevailed on the campus. Bill Gates, the Imam of Generation Next, had understood it and hence sought to replace quantum mechanics with condom mechanics on the campus. May Allah bless him!
But Allah’s ways are not easy to understand. Otherwise how would Hameed, the lord of construction mafias, come to know about her pregnancy so soon? He fretted and fumed while his wife stood with a marmoreal demeanour. Having concealed her face behind the religious veil for years, Aisha’s mother had lost her emotions or had come to think it was no use revealing them since nobody would see through the veil anyway.
“Go and play this on your laptop,” said father flinging a CD at her. “This is selling like hot biryani in Palika Bazar.”
Her heart stopped beating when her laptop brought the CD alive. What she saw was one of her pastime scenes with Anand, though Anand’s face was never seen in the video.
She pressed Anand’s mobile phone number. “Dhoom machale,” said the dial tone before it was cut off. “The person you are trying to contact is out of range or not available now,” said a mechanical voice.
She dialled the number again. The phone was now switched off.
When she reached college the next day she learnt that Anand had gone to join an MBA course in the land of Bill Gates, the Lord of Generation Next.