Published in: Herotica 6, 1999
She was dizzy with the smoke. The traditional wedding had
lasted almost three hours, and the heat and oil fumes from the
ever-present lamps had combined to make Raji feel slightly queasy.
And the chanting. It went on and on and on in Sanskrit incomprehensible
to a girl who’d grown up with a New England accent. She was suddenly
homesick – for America, for Connecticut, for forests and hills and
snow and people you didn’t have to watch every word around for fear of
treading on some custom you didn’t understand. Despite the cold and
pain that had driven her to this wedding in the baking heat of New
Delhi, Connecticut was home. And it was much, much too late to go
back. She was married. The wedding reception was ending now, and it
would soon be time to leave with this kind-seeming stranger, to go to
the house of his mother (whom Raji already despised), to go to his
bed. And all her American casualness about sex, the casualness and
experience she had counted on to see her through this ordeal, suddenly
was meaningless. She was scared. Why, oh why had she agreed to this?
The answer to that was easy. Because she hadn’t cared
anymore. After she’d found out about Jim and that other girl; after
all the broken promises and shattered dreams, it just didn’t seem to
matter. The heat and incense combined to bring on a wave of brutally
They’d just collapsed, Jim on top of her, as he always
insisted. He was crushing her with his weight…not fat of course,
but muscle was even heavier. Raji managed to roll to the side, and
then turned to gaze adoringly into his eyes, still amazed that this
gorgeous man would really want her.
“You were wonderful.”
“Uh huh.” He was still panting, but in a very sexy way, she thought.
“I love you.”
There was a disconcerting pause. Before he’d always responded, “I
love you, too.” Now, he said nothing, and looked almost…guilty?
“Yes?” she asked, eagerly.
“I should probably tell you something. Now don’t get too upset,
And he proceeded to tell her about Sharmila. Also Indian. Two years
older. Drop-dead gorgeous with unfairly huge breasts. Who he’d been
sleeping with for three weeks. His conscience had finally kicked in.
Or maybe he was just bored with Raji, and this was the easiest way to
make her break up with him. Which she, of course, did.
Looking back, she knew it was the right decision…but it had sunk her
into a black fit of depression where she had let everyone else make
decisions for her. She’d decided that maybe her parents were right,
after all. Maybe American men really were slime. Maybe she’d be
happiest with someone like herself. So she’d agreed to meet some
Indian men, and the next thing she knew she was flying to India to
meet this man Vivek. And he was gentle. And kind. Rich and
generous; he’d bought her a pearl necklace the day after they met.
And though she’d only known him for a few days her parents thought he
was very suitable and his parents liked her and it was suddenly all
arranged and they were asking her and she said yes.
And now she was suddenly remembering all the sweet guys she’d
grown up with and wondering where they’d gone. She was finally
shaking off the depression that had lasted the four months since Jim
and just knew that she’d have been happier with an American she understood
rather than with this stranger from a strange land that she’d left
when she was three. And it was still too late. She was married, and
though she could probably get a divorce, Raji wasn’t the sort to give
up on anything that easily. And it would break her mother’s heart.
Her dear, scheming, conniving, thoroughly manipulative mother.
Sometimes Raji couldn’t figure out whether she loved or hated her.
Her silence was noted by Vivek, who asked her in perfect, if
heavily accented English, if she felt all right. Raji nodded, then
stood with him as the interminable reception finally came to a close.
Her legs were trembling, she realized, as she wondered what this
almost certainly virgin man would think of a very experienced
American. She’d find out soon enough.
The women took her to the bedroom and helped her undress,
giving her fragments of advice in broken English as they helped her
into a flowing white nightgown, incredibly demure and perfectly
opaque. Raji barely heard them, caught somewhere between tears and
laughter. She waited patiently, allowing them to dress her as they
chose and lead her toward the crimson-draped bed. One woman, who
Raji thought was her new sister-in-law and recently married herself,
touched Raji’s shoulder before she left, pityingly. Then they were
Vivek appeared, ghost-like in the doorway, dressed in flowing
white to match her. He walked toward her silently; a hunter afraid of
startling some strange, wild creature he had never before seen. Raji
was determined to try her best, and so smiled, slightly trembling.
Vivek returned her smile with a tentative smile of his own, and,
standing before her now, reached his hand up to touch her cheek. His
hand was not damp and sweaty as she had somehow feared, but warm and
dry, as if lit by some inner fire. He had not touched her before
this, in all the days of wedding preparations during the short month
since they had met. Even when placing the gold thali wedding necklace
around her neck, he had taken care not to touch her. She was suddenly
grateful for his gentleness, and stepping boldly towards him,
stretched her slim brown arms to encircle his thick neck, surprised to
find that he was shaking too. Vivek was not very handsome, but
sturdily built, with hair thicker and richer than her own and deep
brown eyes. Raji had thought them dull and calf-like before, but
suddenly she was not so sure. There was a hint of laughter in those
eyes, and a sparkle of what might possibly be intelligence. Of
course, he was a doctor (nothing else would have satisfied her mother)
and so couldn’t be entirely stupid. Now, with her hands locked behind
his neck and her delicate body inches away from his, Raji found
herself bemused, not sure what to do next, or how fast she should take
this. He solved that problem for her.
He placed his arms around her waist, gently. Tilting his
head, he kissed her. She was startled, not at being kissed, but at
being kissed by him, and stiffened in his arms. He raised his head
“Is this not customary in America?”
“Yes, yes it is. I didn’t think it was here.”
“We are not as ignorant as you Americans assume. We do watch movies,
Now Raji was sure that he was laughing at her, as he leaned down to
kiss her again. Despite his claims to knowledge she was fairly sure
that kissing was new to him, and so responded gently to the firm
pressure on her lips. They kissed chastely for long minutes, until
Raji, greatly daring, opened her mouth and touched her tongue to his
lips. He broke away for a moment, plainly startled, but then
returned to kissing her with enthusiasm, opening his own mouth and
tasting her lips, her teeth, her tongue with his own. She tilted her
head backwards, hoping he would get the hint, and he did – kissing her
cheek, her nose, her ear, tracing a delicate line along her cheekbone
with his tongue. He went slowly, seemingly enchanted with the wonder
of it all, and Raji stood still, eyes closed, feeling him touch her so
gently. This was new to her – this gentleness, this seeming
reverence. She had enjoyed sex with Jim, but it had always been hard
and fast, a summer storm – quickly started, quickly over. Vivek was
twenty-five, years older than Jim had been, but he smiled with the
wonder of a child.
Continuing to explore her chocolate skin, he slid slowly down
her neck, dropping kisses like raindrops to lie wetly, quivering with
her breath. Raji continued to hold still, starting to wonder how long
she could act the trembling virgin…how long it would be before her
impatience broke through. His kisses were abruptly stopped by the
laces at the top of the gown, and he froze and locked her eyes with
his. Raji slowly reached up, and almost teasingly, pulled free the
tangled white ribbons and laces. Vivek undid them completely, sliding
the white fabric off her creamy brown shoulders, continuing the slow
kisses that had fallen like cool rain but now began to burn. Despite
a ceiling fan, the room was stiflingly hot to a woman bred to New
England winters, and Raji began suddenly to sway, dizzy with heat and
unexpected passion. Vivek caught and held her, as the gown slid from
her bare body to pool on the green-tiled floor. Cradling her against
him with one arm, he pulled aside mosquito netting and drapes with the
other. Picking her up, he gently deposited Raji on the bed and
pulled the sheet over her. All this happened so quickly that Raji had
no moment in which to become frightened again in her nakedness, and
then he was undressing too, undoing the wrap of white fabric and
climbing in beside her, pulling the mosquito netting closed so that
they might be undisturbed.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes, I think so. Are you?”
“Of course I am. I’m a man.”
Laughter again, from both of them this time, which trailed
away into silence. He looked suddenly vulnerable, Raji thought, as
he sat there cross-legged on the wide bed. The silence grew more and
more awkward until Raji finally raised herself a little on her elbows,
letting the sheet fall down to bare her curving breasts and smiling,
puckered her lips for a kiss. He laughed again, and suddenly he was
swooping down on her in mid-laugh, slipping his broad hands around her
fragile frame. Raji was startled again before she began drowning in a
hail of fierce kisses and caresses. His hands explored in the lamplit
dimness what he could not see, curving to fit her small breasts, each
of which fit into the palms of his hands. He fumbled a little,
sometimes touching her too softly, sometimes too fiercely, but always
kissing so she was blinded by the rain and arching into his touch.
Vivek slid his hands down her stomach, across her hips, gently
pushing apart her trembling thighs. She stiffened suddenly, and
opening her eyes wildly searched for his, until he, looking up, caught
her trapped gaze.
“Don’t be afraid.” he reassured her, though his voice was trembling.
“I’m a doctor, it’s all right.”
“I’m not, it’s just…there’s something I need to tell you.”
Vivek smiled at the confusion in her eyes, and leaned down to kiss her.
At the moment he kissed her he entered her, and Raji was suddenly so
hot, so wet and ready for him that she thought she might scream. But
remembering his despised mother in the next bedroom, she buried the
sound in her throat and only moaned, softly, curving up to meet him as
he began long, hesitant strokes, stretching through her long-neglected
body, giving it the attention it so desperately wanted.
The world blurred for Raji to a haze of cloudy netting above
her, lit by the lamp glow and measured by the rhythmic movement of
this man, her husband, inside her. Some time during that long
eternity it began to rain outside their window, but the thunder and
lightning couldn’t begin to match the pleasure arcing through her. He
began pounding faster and faster to match the storm, and came
suddenly, and she was caught in a moment of purest frustration
underneath him. She opened her eyes to see his concerned face above
“That didn’t work very well, did it? I’m sorry.”
“Shhh…it’s fine. We have lots of time to practice. But there’s a
couple of things I don’t understand.”
“Well, for one, why is it still raining? I thought storms in India
“Usually they are, but this one will last a while. It’s the beginning
of monsoons, remember? It will be storming for the next three
Raji had the distinct feeling that he was laughing at her again.
Vivek smiled brightly at her, rolling her towards him to rest in the
crook of his arm. The storm raged more fiercely outside, churning the
dirt paths to mud, soaking the very air.
“Want to ask one of the harder questions now?”
“There’s just one more. You know I’m not a virgin now. Do you mind?”
She closed her eyes and clenched her fists against the answer, suddenly
wanting desperately to make this gentle man happy, especially happy
“I knew from the beginning. Your mother seemed to feel I had a right
to know what I was bargaining for.”
“She told you? How could she? She didn’t even know…” Raji was
caught somewhere between anger and relief.
“You would be surprised what mothers know. Mine really isn’t so bad;
she’s just not looking forward to my leaving with you.”
“Leaving?” Raji was now completely confused.
“For America. Next week. Lots of work for doctors there, I hear.
The problem in India is that everyone who can becomes a doctor.
There aren’t enough jobs. I’ve been hoping to live in America for
a long time, and I could hardly expect my beautiful American wife to
be like the innocent girls of the villages here.”
“You’re sure you don’t mind?”
And suddenly Raji was free to acknowledge to herself just how much she
longed for apple trees and miniskirts and rollercoasters. India had
its own strange beauty, its passion and mystery, but she was an
American at heart.
Vivek touched her cheek and said, “Shall we try that again?
My mother will be very upset with my if you continue to be so quiet.
She will think that I have been too rough with you and that you are
crying.” Raji held herself still for a moment, looking up at the face
of her new husband. He was such a mass of surprises. Then suddenly she
rolled over so that she was lying on top of him. Raji began kissing
him wildly, ignoring his startled eyes. She stopped for a moment to
tell him, “You’re about to find out just how rough American women can
be…” before she returned to teasing him unmercifully, rubbing her
small breasts across his hairy chest. Vivek responded with renewed
passion, pulling her close, and Raji finally left behind all
thoughts of mothers and matchmaking, allowing herself to go
spiraling downward with her husband.
Any sounds they made were soon drowned in the pounding of the
August 11, 1993
(for Raji. i hope it was at least this good.)