Bhashkar had been out for a walk, stretching his legs and building his strength. He was visiting the cousins of friends from University College London in Suffolk, in the English countryside. It was so pleasant to escape the busy, sooty city, so different from his native Gujarat. He felt the air cool his dark skin, and he loosened his tie.
His path traced the Stour River, and he crossed the Fen bridge, marveling at the wide countryside. Not a person to be seen. He spent much of his time alone as a foreign law student, further isolated because of his vegetarian diet and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. But there were always others close at hand. Here was the first time he felt truly free to explore.
Voices broke the solace and peace of his reverie. He heard the high pitch of women’s voices, and laughter. Where were they? Should he conceal himself? The manners of Victorian England were Bhashkar’s regular study. He could not approach a woman who was a stranger, and she could not approach him. He must be introduced. He felt panicked, but when he came upon a willow on a bank overlooking a pool, he hid himself with great relief. If there was a party out for a stroll, he could wait until they passed, and no one’s offense would be taken.
The voices came past him, and quieted, then drew closer again. He could see that there were three young women approaching the natural pool alongside the river. “The Ladies’ Pond!” he said, sotto voce. His friend had told him of this. Men and women in the country had their own designated swimming areas, where they could exercise and enjoy the health benefits of the cold water. This must be it. He’d wait until he was sure he could escape, and then quietly creep from the willow’s branches.
The early afternoon sun shadowed him under the willow, and with his dark skin, he was completely concealed. He recognized the women. There was Rachel, cousin of his friend Ronald. There was Laura, the Anglican priest’s wife. There was Mary, Laura’s unmarried sister-in-law. Surely they were here only to cool themselves, perhaps dip their feet in the water.
The women had set down their umbrellas, and one pulled a rolled blanket from the bag she carried. Perhaps they were having a picnic? The talk and laughter become louder, more high pitched. Laura and Rachel encircled Mary, and seemed to be taunting her. His abdomen grew tense. He had to escape. He could be discovered at any time, and if Ronald’s family wrote to his host, Madame Duvernoy, he could be turned out of his rooms. No matter what the occasion, the young Indian man would be to blame, he was certain.
Laura was now restraining the laughing, red faced Mary, as Laura was …. undoing the buttons on Mary’s gown? What was happening? Mary put her arms up to allow the women to pull the gown over her head, and Bhashkar saw what he should never have seen: this unmarried young woman in her corset, crinoline, petticoats, and stockings. He felt sick. And yet he felt a not unfamiliar stirring, deep in his loins and his trousers.
“Oh no,” he said to himself, “what is happening?” Laura and Rachel had released Mary’s crinoline cage, and Laura was now furiously pulling open the strings of Mary’s corset. Rachel was working on the buttons on her own gown, awaiting her turn to be released from her corset. As she finished, she walked over to Mary, who helped take the gown over her head. Laura had completed the task on Mary’s corset, and the young woman stood before them in her blouse and underclothes. She kissed Laura on the lips and drew back, tittering, and then kissed Rachel.
“This is far too titillating,” he thought, as his hands undid his belt and the buttons on his trousers, like he had his own compatriot to disrobe him. “I will be ruined. Did not Baba say that I must maintain my celibacy, to become stronger?” He had made a promise to himself, to Baba, to India. All would be weakened if he did not relent from this imbroglio.
The women now stood before one another, clad in only their thin blouses, petticoats, garters and stockings. Then Rachel drew her blouse over her head, and his breath caught in his mouth. He beheld the dark nipples on the shocking white skin. She was the cousin of his good friend. This was indecent. His erection stood before him, curved like the Talwar wrapped in cloth deep in his footlocker at Madame Duvernoy’s. His foreskin stretched tight over its expanse, and the pink head winked out at him, as if to say, “you have sinned, my good man.”
He spit in his hand and peeled back his foreskin, drawing it to the base of his penis. Now it was Mary’s turn to remove her blouse. As her head was covered, Laura and Rachel took her, removing her petticoats, lifting her out of her shoes, and depositing her on her back on the blanket. They each stripped a leg bare, and the maiden lay, completely nude before them, and before Bhashkar.
His strokes took on a steady rhythm. He used his left hand to squeeze the base of his penis tightly, unsure if he wanted to halt the process underway or prolong and increase it. “I am doomed,” he murmured. He prayed for rain, or that he might be struck dead before he disgraced himself further.
Rachel stood to drop her own petticoats and strip off her stockings. Laura was kissing each of Mary’s breasts, and now settled on her mouth Mary’s left breast, absently stroking the tuft of hair covering Mary’s sex.
Perspiration stood out on Bhashkar’s head as he furiously pumped his cock. “I’ll be forced to leave the country. I won’t be allowed to complete my law degree.” He was certain heart palpitations would strike him any moment, and he would die on that spot, beneath the willow.
Now it was Laura’s turn to undress, as Rachel straddled young Mary’s face. Rachel closed her eyes, and rocked her pelvis and torso gently. She used her hands to caress Laura’s now nude buttocks and thighs as the priest’s wife presented her with her callipygian arse.
Bhashkar knew it was over moments before it happened. His frothy, milky sperm jetted from his tortured cock, and the slick fluid coated the leaves surrounding him. He moaned, quietly, and dropped to his knees, the gush of fluid and cock twitches seemingly never-ending. He was accursed, to be sure.
The three women were now nude, and caressing and kissing one another atop the spread blanket. Bhashkar released his death grip on his penis, and leaned over to sink to the ground. His mind was clear for the first time in weeks, and a great peace came upon him. “Perhaps I am damned, but I have seen the most wondrous beauty, and if I die today, I will die happy.” He smiled, and, amidst the leaves and willow branches, entered the most tranquil slumber, without dreams.