Saturday, 23 May 2015

Shrink Tales #7: When it was Time for Cal-Calcutta Kiss

Appachan used to tell me that the best way to inculcate the habit of reading in somebody was to introduce them to detective fiction. Whodunnits. That worked with me and failed with everyone else i tried that on. I shifted to giving children's books. I have a definite list of them which includes Totochan, the Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. At home since both Kunju Thalona and Appachan were always talking about this book or that and because they seemed to be having great fun doing that there was no choice left for me but to start reading. I started with children's literature in my mother tongue, Malayalam. Pretty soon from Appan Thampuran library in Ayyanthole, Appachan lent me Enyd Blytons. I loved them. But by then Kunju Thalona and he were talking about more serious stuff. I was always lagging behind. May be that was why i decided i would start reading Perry Mason in class 8, the same time when Kunju Thalona started reading it. Sibling rivalry worked in strange ways at our home. I loved Perry Mason. Even now when my reading hits a hiatus i turn to the good old Erle Stanley Gardener to revive it.

When Kunju and i were engaged in talking about the beauty and thrill of Perry Masons, one day Sethuvamma timidly entered our conversation to talk about Byomkesh. I read my first Feluda after reaching the institute and Byomkesh was out of the question. On one birthday when Kunju gifted me a Feluda, writing 'so that you remember we had our own mysteries', i had only kept the book in the shelf and thought it would be boring. In the institute i finished the Complete Feluda in less than a week. I got a Feluda tee shirt fron Anand bookstall, Gariahat. It got stolen. Byomkesh was Sethuvamma's favourite sleuth on TV. That was why i took her along when i went to watch Dibakar Banerjee's Detective Byomkesh Bakshi!

I didn't like the film much. Sethuvamma herself said that the TV series she used to watch was much better. There was, however one concept that i loved from the film in addition to the lead actor. It was that of Calcutta Kiss. I liked how the paan made from the secret recipe was called Calcutta Kiss and also liked the part of the song which said that it was time for 'Cal Calcutta Kiss'. Could be because my female intuition (i believe women's intuition is better than males'. Yes, i am a sexist bitch) told me that i was going to have one soon. A kiss. In Calcutta, of Calcutta and therefore my Cal-Calcutta Kiss.

We kissed in a dark alleyway where we thought no one was looking. I am sure someone saw us. We kissed and kissed and kissed till we ran out of breath. I kissed my sadness into him and he kissed his fear into me. We moved to the bathroom where the exhaust fan and the light were connected to the same switch. I hated the sound of the fan and so we kissed in the dark and dampness of it all during the summer in Kolkata, 2015. Both of us broken souls and one kiss broken into pieces like shards of glass. It hurt.

I hid it from her for two days. When i told her after i realized it was impossible for me to hide things from her she said it was okay. Later she asked me how he was kissing me with all my cigarette taste. I felt like banging my head on the wall. She was good at that. Making me feel like an idiot.

Well, i was being one. I was jumping into something which i knew would ruin me. The same old pain. Pain over pain to get rid of other pain. Both of us kissers knew it was our end. We kissed still.

That was why i had to tell Ms Mullick about it in that session. This was before i told her so i was surprised when Ms. Mullick told me that it was okay. She noted that i was 'doing better' and asked me to take things as they came. Which meant i didn't have to be worried about what was going to happen because i kissed someone. I only had to kiss.
The previous week she had set the agenda of the session as forgiveness. She told me that i was to grant myself permission to make mistakes.This was going to be difficult for me because i considered pain as part of my identity and forgiveness would mean that i couldn't be hurt by my own mistakes. I said i would try.

The whole week i thought only of my Cal-Calcutta kiss. I thought of the other kisses i had had here and why they weren't Calcutta Kisses. That was when i realized that all kisses had to be documented. It's like history. It doesn't exist unless it's inscribed somewhere other than people's minds. In other words i am scared i would forget them myself.

My first kiss here was in the verandah of D11, the staff quarters where six of us girls were staying for a semester. NN and i both had the habit of sitting on the parapet. People would get scared seeing us that way on the second floor but we knew we were safe. He and i were having tea and he put his cup away saying 'I am no longer interested in the tea' before kissing me. I loved drama. So i liked how we kissd on second floor of D11, me on the parapet, him leaning on to me. Why, i even loved him for some time, i think. It's hard to tell now.

The second one also, following some strange tradition was on second floor. It was morning, neither of us had slept the whole night. We were talking holding hands and then i felt like kissing him. I did. It went on to create problems for both of us and we ended up breaking hearts of some people we loved so that was our first and last.

The next one happened under a Wim Wender poster i had stolen. He forced himself on me and i felt humiliated and bad. Our friendship itself was broken off because i was kissed when i didn't like it. Wim Wenders stayed.

Once in a party when both of us were drunk like everyone and when she was gazing the stars lying on the terrace, i placed a small kiss on her lips. She smiled. I smiled too and we went our ways.

But my Cal-Calcutta kiss was nothing like any of that. It was different because it was Calcutta. It was different because it was desperate and sad and all things the city was to me and all things a kiss was to him. I hope we never stop kissing. But i know we will and when that happens i hope Calcutta weeps.


  1. Thanks. For reminder-ing to look up on Franny!

    1. Ouch!
      Franny of "Franny and Zooey".
      by J D Salinger.
      Not of your age, though she must have been your age then.

      "I think I'm beginning to look down on all poets except Sappho. I've been reading her like mad, and no vulgar remarks, please. I may even do my term thing on her if I decide to go out for honors and if I can get the moron they assigned me as an advisor to let me. "Delicate Adonis is dying, Cytherea, what shall we do? Beat your breasts, maidens, and rend your tunics." Isn't that marvellous? She keeps doing that, too. Do you love me? You didn't say once in your horrible letter. I hate you when your being hopelessly super-male and retiscent (sp.?). Not really hate you but am constitutionally against strong, silent men. Not that you aren't strong but you know what I mean. It's getting so noisy in here I can hardly hear myself think. Anyway I love you and want to get this off special delivery so you can get it in plenty of time if I can find a stamp in this madhouse. I love you I love you I love you. Do you actually know I've only danced with you twice in eleven months? Not counting that time at the Vanguard when you were so tight. I'll probably be hopelessly selfconscious. Incidentally I'll kill you if ........"

      That's Franny :-)

    2. That's the Franny Appachan wanted me to read. Thanks for re reminder ing me. :)

    3. U one lucky girl -- To have an Appachan like that.
      e-book is there with

  2. "That was when i realized that all kisses had to be documented." And I thought it was going to be a good Sunday afternoon.

    1. My life's mission is to f**k people's peace of mind :D