Their supervisor Kisha was the spark that lit up the dead scrap of wood that was the work life of three young men. She was like a goddess and they were her worshippers. Not only was Kisha beautiful and alluring to them, but Kisha came from India. Even though they knew little about the Hindu culture, that quality gave her a mystique that made her even more attractive.
No one in the office questioned their view of Kisha’s beauty, but few understood that in Brahmanism and to a reader of its sacred writings the gift of physical beauty had other implications. Her parents taught Kisha this truth when she was very young.
“Krishna has looked kindly upon you,” her mother said, “and transformed you and said, ‘I shall show how good is also beautiful. And if anyone asks Kisha about her beauty, Kisha will say, Krishna shows how beautiful good is, Krishna cares about me.’”
So when strangers or people at the office complimented her, Kisha would think about what her mother said and say: “Krishna cares for me.”
Her beauty was not her property; Krishna owned it.
None of this spiritual understanding was in the minds of the three young men. Their unrequited obsession over Kisha may have continued until their hair became gray, but a change happened when Kisha hired Taya. Taya was also from India and like Kisha had studied the sacred writings. Immediately this common ground between them yielded a friendship that the trio of young men envied but also welcomed. Now they had someone who might tell them more about Kisha.
Taya told them that Kisha was an only child, had moved to the West from India when her father accepted a position as Professor of Indian Languages. She came from a traditional Hindu family, graduated from university in World Religions, and from a very early age learned Sanskrit and read the Indian spiritual classics. Taya did not tell them that as long as she could remember Kisha not only believed in but yearned to live in the great sagas of India. Not a day in her life passed without hearing or reading one of these tales and the recitation of various meditative prayers. Reproductions of the great cave paintings and temple sculpture lined her bedroom. While the three young men were fantasizing about her, Kisha was thinking of a way to be at one with the infinite. She ignored not only the stares of the young men who faced her, but anything that did not fit within her profound yearning.
Time passed for the three young men, but time did not end frustration. Though Kisha did nothing to encourage them in the fulfillment of their fantasies, and remained as demure and kind as ever, modestly dressing and speaking, her existence absorbed their minds. Indeed, the more unlikely the seduction of Kisha appeared, the more they wanted her.
Eventually their minds could not confine the fire of their needs. Something had to be done. They were burning up inside with insatiable yearnings. Looking was no longer enough. Instinct was hardening their resolve. They must find a way to have her. Week after week, they schemed and concocted plans to snare her, as a hunter would strategize the kill, searching for the best plan to trap the animal. Like animals themselves, they panted with expectation of what the capture would be like. Kisha was beautiful; they wanted to see and touch this beauty in its raw nude form. One of them, if not all of them, had to have her. Among many ideas, some of them outrageous and a few criminal, one especially continued to excite them: to drug her with an aphrodisiac.
Meanwhile, Taya’s relationship with Kisha had continued and he had even gone to Kisha’s house for dinner. The young men wanted to know everything that happened. Their questions became more bold and intrusive.
“Did you sleep with her? Have you seen her naked form?”
Taya denied any such thoughts and found their probing disgusting. To think of Kisha in that way, he said, was not only ridiculous but disrespectful. Kisha and he were good friends, no more. There would be no romance or intimacy. Kisha sought a higher fulfillment.
When they listened to these reports, they ignored Taya’s comments about the kind of woman Kisha was and heard only that Taya was not interested in her. They then confessed their salacious desires and plan to Taya, hoping he might help.
Taya become angry. ‘How stupid and obsessed are these men! What demons must drive them?’
He told them in a harsh tone that he could not betray his friendship with her.
In reaction, like three little boys who cannot have what they want, one threw a book to the floor, another smashed his fist on the table, and the third hit his forehead with his hand.
Taya observed this adolescent behavior and began to worry, especially in light of their plan to use an aphrodisiac, that they might one day revenge their unreciprocated feelings on Kisha in a violent way. Clearly their obsession was not diminishing. Taya decided on saving Kisha from any potential danger from these men.
Taya first tried what he hoped would be a kind of therapy, an intervention. He encouraged the young men to talk about their irrational pursuit and to share all of their inner hidden passions with others, though their associates were not blind to their yearnings for Kisha. As the weeks went on, Taya slowly included all of the men in the office in the secret of the three young men and some of the women. It was not long before everyone including Kisha knew to what degree the three young men craved her.
Their lubricious feelings for Kisha did not affect Kisha. Calmly she excused their behavior. They were just three males who liked her. So what? Males lust after females and females lust after males. At least these men do not hide behind their thoughts and pretend otherwise. That they desire her is the way of the world. They were harmless, she said to Taya, please don’t embarrass them.
But they did worry Taya. The exposure and discussion of their desires to the office had not changed the attitude of the young men. They remained as determined as ever to entrap her.
Taya decided to try another solution. He told the young men that he would now “guide them to fulfillment.”
Taya’s sudden willingness confused them.
“Why?” they asked, bewildered. “We thought she and you were friends. We thought you told us she was uninterested. We thought you said we were disrespectful. You’ve told this to the entire office.”
“She will still be my friend,” he assured, “and you all will receive what you want, trust me.”
Had their inner demons not clouded their minds, they might have questioned more Taya’s willingness to help them. Instead, as Taya spoke, they had already begun to envision in their minds the delights that they believed would come. They flushed with excitement. Their nerves quivered with the possibility.
The day of seduction came. Everyone met at Taya’s apartment and Taya prepared the aphrodisiac. After Taya had given it to them, Taya excused himself, left, but sat outside the door of his apartment. Taya did not tell them that he had also added certain psychedelic drugs to the aphrodisiac.
The three young men sat on the floor in a row, their backs up against the wall, waiting for the drugs to show its effects. They kept their eyes fixed on Kisha, who sat on a stool facing them across the room. Soon the drug was working and they began to watch the walls, lights, and Kisha contort and change. Then for a few seconds they lost their vision and saw nothing but swirls of color. When their vision returned, it was not as clear as before, but they could see in the blur that Kisha had begun slowly to remove her clothes before the hungry eyes of the three young men. Their hearts beat rapidly as they glimpsed each new view of her flesh. It was exactly as they had imagined it. There, before them, what they had desired for so long, there stood Kisha fully revealed. She was just as they imagined.
Her skin was pure and soft without blemish or lumps. She had a smile that radiated with invitation and eyes that glinted with happiness. Long sleek arms fell to her sides with the motion of a sculpture in harmony. Her breasts were round and firm and her pelvic area spread wondrously out from a tiny waist. There she was. Kisha the Woman, the perfect Yakshi, stood before them, her one hip cocked, her eyes half shut, her mouth open, stroking her hair. Even though one force in them yearned to rush at her and enjoy her, another force needed only to look at and worship her.
The first force was unable to resist. They finally rushed at her and, as she stood without moving, the trio turned into one creature, their six hands were on her form all at once, softly feeling that skin they had so much wanted to hold and caress. They were gentle, even reverent, because they did not want to hurt her and mar a single cell of her body. Kisha did not seem to resist. The experience was perfect, exactly as they had wanted it, as they had fantasized so often. It was ecstasy.
Kisha had become so still that she became a statue.
Then they carried her to the bed and prepared to complete their desires. But before they did, Kisha’s head—her body moist, her hair wet—turned into the head of a bull. The young men sprang off the bed in horror and moved back to the wall.
Kisha with the bull’s head rushed at them with an amazing strength and speed. “Come at me,” she sang in a melody that sounded like a chant. “Rise upon me!” she sang again. The bull snorted and roared. They tried to avoid the head and see only her body, but it was impossible. They could not come at and rise upon that head, however voluptuous the body appeared. They ran to the door to escape, but the door would not open. Naked, shivering, they stood with their backs up against the wall, nowhere to go, whimpering for help from fear.
They each shook their head to erase the image of the head. At the same time, the bull was charging at one then the other, each of them still screaming in hysteria and banging on the walls and door. They also sensed that their noses were growing with scales and had an offensive smell, fluid spewing from them, each looking like a tiny elephant’s trunk.
The bull then pulled enormous scissors from under the bed. The three huddled together in a corner, shaking and terrified by the scissors.
The bull closed and opened the scissors in rapid motion until the scissors transformed into a bright disk with a dark swirling pit in the center, ready to swallow anything near it. Spinning ever so quickly and shining like the sun itself, it mesmerized the boys. The bull flung it first at the bed and in one swift motion sawed it in half. Then it (for how could they anymore think of this monster as a woman) threw the disk into the room and slowly it moved about the room, constantly threatening the boys with a sucking sound.
When it released the disk, the bull began to grow more arms, and each pair of its arms began to create and release tiny duplicates of Kisha the size of a large beetles with the head of Kisha. These little Kishas started to scurry to the young men, who were now seated frozen in astonishment, paralyzed, their mouths open and their back up against the wall. The bull created numerous Kisha mites, who eventually reached the boys and clambered over every area of their bodies until they covered them from neck to feet. The boys tried without success to brush the Kishas away, but there were too many and each seemed to have a clinging power beyond their size. Eventually the young men’s energy was spent. Helplessly they sat while the mites with tiny bites began to nibble on their skin.
Kisha herself had a different experience from the potion Taya had given her—with the permission of her parents and herself. Her yearnings were spiritual. She wanted to have a sacred union with infinite powers. Immediately, when focusing on the three young men, she fell into a profound rapture in which the three youths transformed into Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, the trinity of Hinduism; and Kisha became in her reverie Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Kali, the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The union was a spiritual union in which she lost her identity and became enlightened by these powers of the universe as she opened up her heart and revealed her love for them all. The ecstasy was not physical but contemplative and ineffable for the deeply pious and virtuous woman.
When Taya returned, he found the three young men against the wall, their bodies pale and cold with sores everywhere. On the floor in front of the bed he saw his scissors and silver pizza pan. The eyes of the young men were abnormally large and fixed on some unknown object, as if hypnotized.
Taya shook them repeatedly. Finally, they stirred, came to their feet, dressed and, without speaking, left.
The young men spent the next two weeks at home in their apartments. Physically they were sore and were applying continuously a healing ointment to their bodies, but mentally they were even more injured. Since that event, the images of the bull, the mites and the disk now haunted them, harassing them with nightmarish attacks that disturbed their sleep.
Their minds were very unclear about what happened, uncertain if what they had hoped would happen did happen. Physically no sign now remained and they had no memory of any pleasure. The sores on their skins were a mystery. Yet something had happened, some physical reaction had taken place, but their minds left no conscious, clear, and real proof of how it happened.
Back at work they sat as always facing Kisha, more radiant than ever, who smiled at them when they sat down, and kindly welcomed them back.
They smiled back.
All of the fellow workers, including Taya, gathered at lunch around the trio to hear the news, but the three did not want to speak about Kisha. In light of the bewildering images and their shadowy sense of the event, what, they thought, could they say to their colleagues?
In Kisha, they saw a glow of fulfillment beaming all over her face for no reason known to them. How can she look so serene and they feel so confused? Did she not know what happened? That question in itself disturbed them, because their own experience was uncertain. They knew she had been there, but they expected to see her differently or knowingly. Now she looked at them as if they had never met outside work. They themselves had no feeling or memory of touching her body and no images of seeing her beautiful form. Yet they were there. After all, there was not one but three of them as witnesses.
“We don’t want to talk about it!” the trio insisted to their peers.
“Why, what happened?” the other men wondered.
“What does it matter?” the trio responded with a tone of irritation. “Leave us alone!”
The other men shook their heads, disappointed, and returned to their desks.
After the others had left, Taya looked over at the trio and smiled.
“I wouldn’t have believed it,” Taya said, “but you fellows are gentlemen. You didn’t make up some story. That was a kind thing to do.”
They did not reply, but thought: ‘What story could they create? They had no memory of what really happened.’
That afternoon, just before they were leaving work for home, they overheard Taya and Kisha talking in the cafeteria area.
Kisha was enthusiastic.
“Oh, Taya,” she whispered, “how can I thank you? It was as you said. Father is so proud. It happened just as I hoped. I’m so happy. I go over it again and again in detail just to be certain, and he said, ‘Yes, it is true, what we have prayed for has occurred and to our humble family! Kisha has touched the immortals!’”
“Tears came to his eyes, Taya,” Kisha added. “And to mine. What an experience! Oh, how can I thank you?”
“It wasn’t just me, Kisha,” Taya whispered. “You have the three young men to thank too.”
“You haven’t explained to me why they were so willing,” Kisha said. “Did they know?”
“No, they knew nothing, and even if they knew, they wouldn’t understand. They had to experience what they desired. How can one explain these things, Kisha, when their minds are elsewhere?”
“Yes, you’re right,” Kisha said. “We wouldn’t want them to go mad. But I feel such sorrow in them.”
“I know,” Taya said. “We shall see. Desire forms deep roots but still there’s hope.”
After Kisha left, the young men told Taya that they had overheard his conversation. They begged him to explain.
He refused. What happened, he said, was a private matter of Kisha. Only Kisha can share such information.
“Yet we remember so little about the episode. Don’t we deserve to know something?”
“You do know,” Taya said. “There’s no mystery. You were there.”
“What do you mean? Yes we were there, but what happened?” they encircled him, their minds anxious for insight.
“Look at you!” Taya responded. “Filled with confusion and lack of fulfillment, unable now to face or understand what had happened. Even your skin shows a struggle with something. Now look at Kisha. She is more wondrous than ever. Try to recall.”
“Just tell us,” they pleaded as they followed him out, “did it ever happen? That’s all we want to know. Was she there, was she with us, did we see her naked, did we touch her? What happened?”
Indian Literature Review | Author |
D. D. Renforth has published five short stories this year (2016). A graduate of Syracuse University, Duke University, and University of Toronto (Ph.D.)., Renforth lives in Toronto, Canada.
Genre: Short Story