An excerpt from the book, Taboo by Nirmala Govindarajan.

Perumal Arokyaswami is well-versed in the art of holding slender beedis between his lips– he tightly drags the native tobacco from the spine of the indigenous Indian cigarette. The government-endorsed, original Vignesh Beedi of unadulterated intoxication is Perumal Arokyaswami’s forever favourite brand.

As a lone star from the Far East shimmers with a vengeance in the sky, Peruma Arokyaswami drags the beedi one more time – he is beholden to this native intoxication – he swerves his matted head to face his companion for the night. Moving close to meet her mouth, Perumal Arokyaswami deftly passes the intoxication from his own blackened teeth unto a pair of lipstick red instruments of kiss – the native flavour grabs his companion in her feminine core.

This singular Vignesh Beedi is fortunate, it now rests between a pair of delicious red lips. These lips must have an owner who cares to paint them this alluring shade of red each time the sun goes to bed. The Lady with the Slender Hands wears red, this alluring hue is brightest upon her lips. Her lips, those sumptuous instruments of kiss, are a feast for her lover with the matted head.

But the Lady is not alone with her lover upon this rain-blessed night. The man with blackened teeth and the Lady with the red lips have the rain for company, alright.

Rain, rain, poda deiyy groans Perumal Arokyaswami in the Tamil tongue.

Rain, rain, get lost you rascal.

But the rain persists, it brings the Lady and her companion close, skin to skin.

Rain, rain, come back you rascal.

Rain, rain, vaada deiyy groans Perumal Arokyaswami in the native tongue of Cottonpettai.

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The native tongue of Cottonpettai is Tamil, and this is a perfect setting for lovemaking. This setting has rain, the Lady, and Perumal Arokyaswami, the lovers caressing each other, their near-naked bodies moving to the rhythm of the downpour, and all is seemingly quiet. But not quite – something else is moving upon this rain-blessed night – a human-shaped gunny bag with a rascal inside.

‘There’s a rascal, and he’s moving inside a gunny bag – is he dead or alive?’ the frightened Lady and her lover wonder.

The Lady holds her poise despite her fright, and whispers: ‘Who can this rascal be?’

Perumal Arokyaswami is tongue-tied, his intoxicated mind has not known Pascal Rebello de Fonseca to be a rascal.

‘Pascal Rebello de Fonseca was a wonderful man,’ the lover whispers back to the Lady almost trembling in his arms.

This wonderful man loved the Lady with the Slender Hands more than he did his own life – she knows he isn’t a rascal. The Lady and her lover, both intoxicated beyond any ability to see reason or the moving gunny bag, heatedly haggle over the ‘isn’t’ and the ‘wasn’t’ until the rain pauses the uncontrollably rising fire within the core of their impassioned bodies.

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Their bodies still in contact with each other, the Lady and her lover linger in their own intoxicated thoughts. In the Lady’s reckoning, she has known Pascal Rebello de Fonseca ever since she was half a foetus. In Perumal Arokyaswami’s reckoning, he has known Pascal Rebello de Fonseca ever since that first rain-blessed night when he shared his naati, yes …country tobacco dosed Vignesh Beedi with the Lady – she, the owner of those tantalizingly slender hands. In fact, Perumal Arokyaswami has known Pascal Rebello de Fonseca much before that night – he is too intoxicated by the stark country flavour of the government- endorsed beedi and the Lady’s sumptuous red lips to bring his important past to the present.

Perumal Arokyaswami’s past is also his present.

The Lady is present, and her beauty so perfect, Perumal Arokyaswami’s masculinity is tense. He grabs the beedi from the pout of the Lady’s red lips, drags it deep, permits its perfect flavour to savour his blackened teeth, also fill his entire lean body from his matted head down to his naked toes.

The Lady’s near-naked body is tense, she pouts some more, she permits her slender hands accoutred with twelve red bangles each, to grab Perumal Arokyaswami in a tight embrace.

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Skin to skin, mouth to lip, Perumal Arokyaswami now holds the naati flavour at grabbing distance from the Lady’s pout. The Lady is impatient, she must hold the naati tobacco flavour of Nippanini between her lipstick red, much-practiced pout upon this rain-blessed night – right now! She grabs the beedi between her sumptuous lips, and Perumal Arokyaswami’s forefinger follows the naati intoxicant into the Lady’s warm and succulent mouth.

Picture Credit: Pan Macmillan India/ Nirmala Govindarajan

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Excerpted with permission from Taboo by Nirmala Govindarajan, Pan Macmillan India.

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