Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Hippy Girl - By Chandrakant Keni
By Chandrakant Keni
This is a slight reworking of Augusto Pinto's translation of
the late Chandrakant Keni-bab's (arguably) most famous short
story, done for Goa Today in 1991.
Later, it was reproduced in the Jaico Books 2002 anthology
'Our Favourite Indian Stories', edited by Khushwant Singh and
Pinto, based in Moira and a lecturer in Goa, reworked his
translation after the death was announced of ex-editor Keni
(75) in Goa. Keni died in the morning of Feb 3, 2009
It was five in the evening and raining heavily. One look at
the looming black sky told me that it wasn't going to stop
soon. It was already getting dark and I was driving home
quite slowly when I saw this White girl thumbing a lift. She
had no umbrella or raincoat and was completely soaked. I
stopped the car and told her to get in.
"Thank you," she said.
"Where are you going?"
"Any shelter will do," she smiled.
I took her home with me. My wife was astonished to
see me with this hippy girl. The girl was wet and
shivering. I took my wife aside and told her to
give her a change of clothes.
Half an hour later she emerged in a sari, her hair tied in a
bun. She had put kumkun on her forehead and after coming into
the sitting room she struck a pose before me.
"How do I look?"
'Sexy,' was the word that came to my mind, but since my wife
was standing behind me, I only murmured: "You look like a
typical Indian woman."
She laughed and settled comfortably on a chair. We chatted
for a while as we ate the snacks my wife had prepared.
Her name was -- surprise, surprise -- Cinderella.
She was from France and was in India for the last
six months. Before that she had studied Science at
a French University. She was twenty years old but
looked nearly thirty. She lived in Colva along with
several other hippies.
"What made you go out in this rain without a raincoat or even
"I don't buy such stuff. The only way to know what fun it is
to get wet in the rain -- is to get wet in the rain.
Understand? Have you ever tried doing that?"
I replied dryly, "Very romantic I'm sure, but frankly,
getting wet in our rains is not my idea of fun. Rather it's
the ideal way to get sick."
"Nonsense. How can you remain cooped up in this
prison, while all of Nature is dancing outside? If
you want to know the real meaning of true
happiness, you must get out of this little prison
house of yours," she retorted in an English which
was surprisingly good for a Frenchwoman.
I appreciated her point of view, but I knew that her kind of
views were not at all my cup of tea.
"Why do you loaf around like this? Shouldn't you be studying?
And what of your parents?"
"I'm acquiring wisdom in the lap of Nature," she smiled.
"But did your parents allow you to do this?'
Cinderella laughed. For a while neither of us spoke. Then she
said, "Do this -- come and spend a few days with us." I
accepted the invitation without batting an eyelid, and asked
her, "But won't your people make me feel uncomfortable?"
"Usually we do not like strangers poking and prying around
us, but you are different. You are an intelligent,
responsible person, and having you for a few days will not
I asked whimsically, "But what if I find your way of life so
enticing that I want to desert my family and join you?
She shot back, "I'll consider that an achievement on my part."
Cinderella had dinner with us that evening, after
which my wife and I dropped her off to Colva. She
had put on her own clothes by then but had not
wiped off the kumkum.
I ran into Cinderella again today when I visited
Colva. It wasn't raining this time, and she was
going to the beach. Alone. She asked me to come
along. We went and sat on the wet sand. Her long,
loose hair billowed in the air in the sea breeze,
even as the flimsy blouse she wore fluttered over
her breasts. The top two buttons of her blouse
weren't fastened and every now and then my gaze
strayed over her cleavage.
"Cinderella, tell me, why do people wear clothes?"
My question made her a little self-conscious, and she put on
one of the buttons on her blouse.
She replied, "To cover one's body, I suppose..."
"The wind, the rain, the cold, the sun... What are you
"The wind, the rain, the cold, the sun.... So that's your
sartorial philosophy, is it?"
"Yeah. And what's yours?"
"Humans are social animals and so they must conform to the
dictates of nature. Birds don't have to dress; and animals do
not have to either. But human beings have to behave in a
socially acceptable manner."
"What about your sadhus and sadhvis, who do not follow your
"They have renounced the world. "
'So have we!"
"But there is no vice in their world. I'm not sure about yours."
"I know what you're trying to suggest about us hippies. And
you are wrong! Going by the way you think, all our men should
be rapists, given the number of naked women they see every
day. Actually the truth is quite the opposite."
"You may be accustomed to this but what about our boys and
girls who are not?"
"We don't intrude into their world, so they should not
intrude into ours; and if they do, you shouldn't complain."
"How can we avoid you? You wander about on the beach, in the
"In what way are we indecent?"
"When our adolescent boys see young women with not a stitch
on, they may get the wrong ideas. About sex, for instance."
"Why do you people wish to repress Nature in the name of
Morality? Let those boys and girls of yours live in freedom.
Then they won't have any trouble with immoral thoughts."
"That's only half true. Total freedom will only lead them to
lust after each others bodies."
"Let them. As long as both the boy and girl agree."
"And what if they become pregnant?"
"Let the children come and let them bring them up. When they
are young kids are the responsibility of their parents. When
they grow up, God and the government can sort out their
"But if we do this won't the institution of the family itself
"What institution!? Despotism is the right word."
Our ideas were so diametrically opposed to one another, I
realised that we would get nowhere with this argument, so I
got up to leave.
"Are you going?"
"It's late, and my wife will be worried."
"Why didn't you bring her with you?"
"I got to the beach by chance as I happened to be passing
this way, and as luck would have it there you were..."
Cinderella took a bottle of kumkum from her bag and said,
"Please put a dot on me."
"Why don't you do it yourself?"
"I don't have a mirror. For a woman a mirror is another tyrant,"
Opening the bottle of red liquid, I dipped a matchstick into
it. But then a disturbing thought came to my mind and I wiped
the red colour off the matchstick."
"What's the matter?"
"In our land only a husband may put kumkum on a woman. It
signifies that they have an intimate relationship.
Cinderella giggled, "Then you can make love to me."
"I'm a follower of Lord Ram. I'm monogamous."
"Your traditions are very repressive, aren't they? Now what
would happen if I were to fall in love with you?"
"Our lives would be ruined."
"Why should that be so? If you love me, should your love for
your wife diminish?"
I was confused. To end this Inquisition, I put the kumkum on
her forehead. She grabbed my right hand and clasping it with
both her hands she took it to her lips and kissed it. I
quivered. I felt as if a bolt of lightning had passed through me.
I got up and walked towards my car. Cinderella walked besides
me. Abruptly she asked,"When shall we meet again?"
"No Sunday is a long way off. Come tomorrow."
"I'll see, but I can't promise anything."
In the meanwhile another hippy came towards us. Cinderella
waved out to him. The moment he came close, she slipped into
his embrace and he rested his chin on her head and drew her
tightly towards himself with his right arm, while his left
caressed her breasts.
"Meet my pal Paul."
I wished him politely, but my heart seethed with envy. Wonder
whether it showed on my face.
Cinderella came to our house this evening. I wasn't at home.
M wife can't speak English but she understood a little of
what Cinderella said. Apparently she wanted to know how to
make curry. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't get to see
how it was done because my wife makes enough in the afternoon
to last till night. But she got to eat my wife's dry mackerel
salad, of which she ate quite a bit even as it was being made.
At dinner I tried to convince her to stay the night at our place.
"And become a barrier between you and your beloved wife? No way."
"There's a room you can have all for yourself."
"Won't that be a terrible punishment for you?"
I felt like laughing. My wife couldn't follow the
conversation and neither Cinderella nor I tried to explain
anything to her.'
"So you won't stay?"
She shocked me. "Fine -- I will, but on condition that all
three of us should sleep in the same room."
"That's not possible. I'll take you home."
"Why don't you stay with us instead?"
"And leave my wife alone at home?"
"Don't you ever go out leaving her alone?"
"I do. But what do you think she'd feel if under her very
nose I went away to spend the night with you?"
"That's true. You can drop me and return home."
It was quite dark when I drove the car out with Cinderella
sitting beside me.
"You surprise me. Why do you treat me like a stranger?" she
"Is that what you feel?"
"Yes. The other day you put the dot on me, but even now, if
my hand so much as brushes against yours, you seem to shudder."
"That's the way I was brought up."
"Are you telling me that you look upon every other woman
besides your wife as a mother or a sister?"
"Frankly -- no. But in our culture that's how it should be."
"Which means you do have desires, but you repress them."
"True. But to do otherwise would be immoral..."
"There you go again with your morality. Tell me, are all
those sanyasis, and brahmacharis and yogis really like what
you think they are?"
"Yes. Their minds are devoid of passion."
"How can that be?"
"What else are their terrible sacrifices for? If a person
lightly traces his finger over the sole of someone's foot, it
tickles. But do the same thing to your own foot. Does it
tickle? Of course not. But why?"
"You tell me."
"It's because your mind is aware that what is moving over
your skin is your own finger. In the same way, it is not easy
for a man to believe that any other woman is a mother or a
sister. His mind has to be conditioned to achieve this state."
"Oh. I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but you seem to
suggest that it's possible to conquer one's desires!"
"But why should you suppress your desires?"
"If I didn't I'd be unfaithful to my wife."
"What if your wife wants another man?"
"I wouldn't like that."
"So you're against her being a free person."
"I can't help it."
"You can. You can free your mind by snapping the chains of
tradition. The more you suppress your desires, the more they
will eat you up; but once you satisfy them, well -- that's
the end of them."
We had arrived at Colva by then. Cinderella exclaimed, "We've
got here pretty quickly. Come on, lets go and sit on the beach."
"But my wife is alone at home."
"Just for a little while. Lets finish this discussion. Before
coming to India, I had been to Iran. I want to tell you about
an incident there."
"About the satisfaction of desires?" I said naughtily.
"What else?" We both laughed.
When we settled down on the beach, Cinderella said, "Why
does society expect only women to cover their bodies?"
"It stops people lusting after them."
"People? You mean men."
"Don't you think that women get aroused when they see men
bare their chests?"
"How would I know?"
"All these standards of morality that women have to abide by,
are imposed upon them by men."
I was silent.
Then quite deliberately Cinderella peeled off her blouse.
Embarrassed, I turned my head away,
"Don't blush like that. Once you get accustomed to this, you
won't feel ashamed."
"How can I control my feelings?"
"Don't control anything."
Trying to behave as naturally as I could, I turned towards
her, while Cinderella talked away without the least trace of
She narrated an incident about Mazook, an Iranian
ascetic. He had left home with the intention of
conquering the miseries of mankind. After
traversing over the entire country, he came to the
conclusion that when men's desires are unfulfilled,
they become unhappy. He concluded that Man suffers
from two types of hungers -- a hunger for food and
a hunger for pleasure. If these hungers are
placated he is at peace.
One day Mazook saw a young man singing a melancholic song by
the banks of a river. Mazook realised that his lyrics were
nothing but an outpouring of agony. He approached the youth
and asked him why he was so miserable.
The young man replied, "I love a girl but she does not
return my love."
"I don't know."
"In that case the girl is at fault. One who gives rise to
sorrow in a fellow creature commits a wrong. Come, let's go
They went to the girl.
"Why have you made him miserable?"
"I have done nothing to him. But I cannot give him what he demands."
Mazook turned to the young man.
"What have you asked of her?"
"I long for her embrace... I want all the pleasures that a
man expects of a woman."
"Young lady, why do you deny him this?"
"Should I lose my purity just to satisfy his whims?"
"Purity? The Kingdom of Heaven has no place for such
concepts. Out of such petty words like Purity are crafted the
chains that bind us. Have nothing to do with them! The hungry
should be fed; the passionate should be gratified,"
"Do you want to turn us into beasts?"
"Let it be so. Only thus can one achieve happiness. Which man
has Morality ever made happy?"
I laughed after hearing this story.
"What's so funny?" asked Cinderella.
"So this is your way of life?"
"But why should the one who seeks gratification impose his
will on others?"
"True. There should be no compulsion. Suppose I wanted you to
make love to me now and you were willing, then..."
I looked away.
Cinderella snuggled close to me. The cloak of morality which
I had shielded myself with up to now crumbled as I gave in to
my lust and her charm. I held her in my arms and kissed her
"Are you satisfied?"
"No, this is only the beginning." she replied.
God alone knows for how long we remained locked in each
others arms. Suddenly the thought of my wife came to me and
my grasp loosened.
"What happened?" she asked.
"I have to go home. It's late."
"Aren't you being unjust to me."
"I shall repent for it," I replied kissing her again.
I don't even smoke cigarettes. But I wanted to experience
that state of transcendence they say one could achieve after
smoking marijuana. We were sitting in a room of a hippy's
house, and everyone had arrived in some state of undress.
Cinderella was completely naked.
She ripped open a cigarette, mixed the tobacco with some
hashish, rolled it in new cigarette paper and lit it.
She took a deep drag, savouring the sweet aroma of its fumes
before holding it at my lips.
I sucked at it greedily. The smoke streaked to my brain. I
coughed and gasped frantically. Cinderella slapped and
caressed my back as she whispered, "Slowly, slowly."
For the first time in my life I found the world revolving
"Enough." I said.
"You haven't seen anything yet. Have another drag."
The beast in me was aroused. Her naked torso with her breasts
and thighs jutting out seemed to be taunting me. There and
then like a beast I satisfied my lust for her and afterwards
continued to smoke the joint until I passed out.
When I returned to my senses I discovered that I had been
sleeping with my head on Cinderella's tummy. Shaking my head
I got up and sat down. Cinderella was still asleep. I glanced
at her naked body and shuddered. I could not believe that the
lure of the flesh could make me so blind. I looked at my own
body. There was no cloak of morality there anymore. I felt
ashamed of myself and got up to put my clothes on.
Cinderella was still unconscious. I could not bear to see her
in that state any longer. I found a bed sheet and covered her
with it. I searched my pockets for a piece of paper but
couldn't find any and there didn't seem to be any in the room
either. Finally I found a bill somewhere and on the back of
it I wrote
Thank you very much. My urges have been satisfied.
You are always welcome at my home. But please do
not invite me to this place again. Your philosophy
may be true and it also may be good, but neither am
I accustomed to such a hedonistic lifestyle, nor do
I want to get used to it.
I returned home that night but did not have the courage to
look my wife in the face. I feel that women instinctively
understand these things, but if she did have an inkling of
what was going on, she did not utter a word.
Cinderella didn't turn up after that. I kept thinking about
her again and again. I was mortally afraid that she wold drop
in in my absence and in her usual frank manner explain
everything that had happened between us to my wife. But she
didn't come at all. When one evening I asked my wife if she'd
like to come for a stroll on the beach at Colva, she replied,
"You want to meet Cinderella isn't it? Why drag me along? I
don't want to get in your way."
She had hit me where it hurt most. But I just laughed
lightly and teasingly said, "You're jealous, aren't you?"
"I am not jealous. But the moment I saw that bitch step into
this house, I knew she was up to no good."
"All right Madam. Now get ready."
"There's work to be done. Who'll do that?"
"Let's enjoy ourselves when we have the chance. In future who
knows if we'll get the opportunity again, when we have
"If you want to go - go!! Don't bother me."
Having said this my wife went inside.
I didn't move from that chair for a long time. On the one
hand I kept thinking about Cinderella and on the other I
didn't want to offend my wife. And feeling guilty as I was, I
didn't have the courage to meet Cinderella without my wife
Eventually I did go to Colva alone.
I met Paul the moment I stopped my car. He told me that
Cinderella was sitting in a shack.
Two couples were seated at a table drinking beer. "Hi!"
Cinderella called me over.
I pulled a chair and joined them.
"What'll you have?"
"Have some beer," someone said, "We're celebrating."
I wondered why and looked at Cinderella. She was never the
shy type but to my surprise she actually blushed.
Before I could say anything a glass of beer was thrust into
"Cheers!!" I said.
"Cheers to Cinderella and her baby in her womb!!" said the
My hand shook and beer spilled all over my clothes.
"What happened?" the other woman asked.
Taking a handkerchief from my pocket, I wiped the beer off my
clothes and the cold sweat from my face. While I did this one
of the hippies kissed Cinderella on her lips an caressed her
belly with his left hand. In guilt, I hung my head down and
began sipping my beer.
Quietly the others began slipping away, leaving only
Cinderella and me at the table.
"Cinderella is this true?" I asked, my voice breaking.
"I win. You lose." Cinderella replied.
"The other day you left a note for me and disappeared didn't
you? But I was sure you would return. And here you are. I win."
Inwardly heaving a sigh of relief I said, "Is it true?"
"All the angels and saints will swear to it."
"Whose is it?"
"How should I know?"
"It's not mine is it?"
"I really can't tell ... but you needn't look so worried. I'm
going to bring it up as my very own bastard."
"But why should you make the child suffer like this?"
"If the father has no guts, what else can be done?"
"And what about you afterwards?"
"Me? I'll become a mother."
"Without being married."
"What's wrong with that? My dear man, do you know you haven't
congratulated me yet?"
"Congratulations. May I leave?"
"Go! But don't forget me. Come here once in a while... Or
should I come to your place?"
"Cinderella, I find this very difficult to say, but please do
not come to my house. Please, as a favour."
"But you know, I didn't mean I would come there for my delivery."
"I know that. But my wife..."
"I won't say a word about what happened. That's a promise."
"No Cinderella... it's not that. We've been married for eight
years and till today she has not conceived..."
Cinderella laughed, She said,"In that case it's not yours!"
Translated by Augusto Pinto
End of Goanet Digest, Vol 4, Issue 108
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