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Kalkatta: An Extract

Kalkatta: An Extract
A man must enjoy what he does, otherwise he’d never be able to do it well. That’s what Rajesh Sharma had told me on my first day as a subagent. “If you think form filling is boring, you’re bound to make mistakes. You must feel the thrill of a writer, putting together all the clues that make up an applicant’s life story.” I knew that to be true watching Ani who loved his computer, and Rakib whose head was full with his business even when he was out joking with us. Sadly, there were those like Ammi who didn’t enjoy her long hours of needlework, waiting for the day when hereyes would no longer be able to tell thread from cloth.

“You really love sex, don’t you?” Pom asked me one day as we were killing time under the champaka tree. Our Pom was from Manipur, expert in manicure and pedicure. It made me shy to hear her speak like that. It reminded me of Rajesh Sharma’s words. I wondered if I was like Rakib or Ammi when it came to my gigolo work. There were days when I felt like one or the other. Luckily, most of my parties were known to me. I could spend some time thinking about all the naughty things we’d done together, before they arrived. I’d even make them wait while I smoked a cigarette under the champaka tree to think some more. It never failed to get me into the mood. It helped too to forget, as soon as my job was done, switching my mind back to the film I was watching with Rani.
“But you must love some of them, no?”
“Just like you love Justice Sen whose nails you clip every Friday?” I teased her.
“That’s different!” Pom squealed.
“What difference does it make touching someone one way or the other?” I persisted.
“It’s different because what you do to your parties isn’t just a trick, but something ... something that makes you dream.”

Even after she was called away by Rani to tend to a client, I kept thinking about Pom’s words. Maybe giving sex was a trick. I must’ve learnt it while reading all those ganda books on our roof and watching dirty films with Rakib at Shiraz building. A trick one could play with one’s mind, trusting oneself enough to make a dream last only as long as one wished.

All mistakes, though, begin with trust. I’d come to learn this the hard way. Others will happily break your trust in them. But even bigger mistakes come from trusting yourself too much. If you think you’re safe just because you’re far from home and no one will spot you among millions, you are wrong. That simple belief will make you leave a 
footprint as big as an elephant’s. It’s like standing naked in the middle of the street and hoping no one will notice 
you because they’re expecting to see a cow. And every mistake has just one effect: it makes you weak, like living inside the skin of someone you couldn’t trust.

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