He flings the soap away in a tantrum and uses his hair shampoo instead to wash his body. He cringes at the thought of doing something he considers even remotely plebby. He must look for alternative accommodation. Just yesterday one of his housemates left some horrid skid marks in the toilet bowl and didn't have the decency to clean it up. He misses his mother's clean pristine house. You would never find skid marks in any of her bathroom toilets! He misses his father's mutton vindaloo. What he does not miss though is his wife Maya. This is the main reason he continues studying, adding one degree after another. To avoid spending time at home with Maya.
There is nothing wrong with Maya. In fact, she is very pleasing to the eye. Maya comes from a very well to do family. Her father made his money in the early 80's from securing the contract to supply plastic flowers to Government offices during the time plastic flowers were in vogue. Later, he artfully reinvented himself as some sort of indoor landscape artist, convincing the Government that they needed a "garden atmosphere" within their office premises. The rest, as we say, is history. If you walk into any Government building these days, you will be greeted by an array of garish multi coloured plastic flowers. Should you be attending any meetings at their boardrooms, you would be forgiven for being distracted by the mini lake gardens at the center of the room. Yes, right smack at the center lies an entire garden of plastic flowers on the carpeted floor. Maya's father has somehow convinced the Government that having a meeting around a mini garden would encourage and facilitate an amicable conclusion to all negotiations. So that's how he made his money. Fortunately for us, his daughter has better taste than him. Unfortunately though for Maya, she was married off to the son of a successful restauranteur. Androo is her husband's name. Skinny, pale and short. Fancies himself as some sort of intellectual and human rights activist. Incredibly finicky, his hair parted perfectly at the center and smoothed down with the aid of brylcream. Yes, the chap with the aversion for skid marks in the loo. He lines the inner bowl of the toilet with lots of loo paper so that the water in it would not splash back at him when his poo torpedoes in. I'm sorry, I was just amusing myself with words containing double Os. Compared with his butt ugly hairy parents, who could easily be mistaken for Big Foot's relatives, he is relatively OK looking with a certain boyish geeky charm. Most people who have met the family, wonder if there had been some mistake at the hospital when Androo was born and like any decent Tamil movie plot, he would later be reunited with his real parents just when he is about to die from gunshot wounds - shot by his long lost twin brother whilst embroiled in a love triangle. So far, nothing of that sort is happening yet and Androo is still studying for his PhD. So for all intents and purposes, we shall have to assume that he really is the son of Uncle Veloo and Aunty Roopah. And the husband of Maya.
Maya, Maya, Maya. Beautiful Maya. Soft, cultured, delicate on the outside. Deep, spiritual, intelligent with a hidden penchant for mischief and mirth on the inside and a passion yet undiscovered and unawakened. None of these qualities are seen or appreciated by the person she married or the family she married into. They only see her status and her parents' wealth.
Fortunately for Maya and unfortunately for the Veloo family, Maya has made friends with Uncle Veloo's incorrigible niece Letchoomi ... yes our luscious Letchoomi ... and her best friend, the sensuous, smouldering Sosya. These 2 provide endless entertainment for our dear Maya who has to live vicariously through them, fantasising that it is her who is having all that fun instead of being stuck in a dull, listless, loveless marriage to a man-boy whom she and her friends call "Mr Missionary".
Maya, Letchoomi and Sosya are in a newly opened Italian restaurant, not too far away from Uncle Veloo's restaurant. The girls have escaped there to have a giggle away from Aunty Roopah's watchful gaze. Sosya is asking Maya if there is any improvement in her husband's love making or is he still stuck at the missionary position for the last 7 months since they got married. Maya sighs, yes, he is still Mr Missionary - making love with the lights off, under the covers of the thick duvet, hardly touching her except in a perfunctory manner. Maya tried to go down on him, as advised by her 2 helpful friends, but he froze in shock and was catatonic for the next 30 minutes. It was useless. She felt useless and unwanted. Like an empty porcelain vase. Beautiful to look at, admired from afar but no one dares to touch the precious porcelain vase for fear it may break. Its place is on a pedestal. It is not entitled to have any feelings, any emotions, any desires - its function is only to be there to be admired. And such is Maya's position. Androo just forces himself to have sex with her in order to fulfil his duty as his parents expect them to produce children. By now Maya has resigned herself to accepting the fact that she is an object to be admired and not desired. That she herself possesses no desires of her own. That she is cold and lacks passion and that's why her husband finds her unappealing. Even her lecherous father in law looks at her only with deference in his eyes and not lust. She has seen the way he looks at Sosya and Letchoomi but ... with her... sigh, is she that cold?
Maya is asking her friends whether perhaps they could help seduce her husband and teach him how to make love properly. This is indeed a desperate request by a wife. And yet how many desperate wives are out there who wish that someone would tutor their husbands on how to be a better lover? And why can't these women teach their husbands how to please them, you may ask. There are many reasons and many taboos on this subject. Firstly, the wife cannot seem more experienced than the husband. Secondly, having to teach him to do something which he should already know is a turn off. Most importantly, he will lose face and that will surely kill the passion, if there is any, between husband and wife. The wife does not want to play the role of a traffic cop (Polis Di Raja Malaysia) directing the husband where to go. The problem with most men is that they "make love" to all women using the same blueprint. What works for one woman, what turns one woman on, should turn all other women on as well. I'm afraid it doesn't work that way chaps. You need to wipe the slate clean and start afresh - like you are touching a woman for the first time and discovering something totally new and wonderful. The key is in the touch. But men are so performance based these days, they focus on size, length of time, stamina etc they equate themselves to a car. How fast and how long can I go? is their main concern. And women add on to this fallacy by faking it all the time - to preserve the relationship, to secure an insecure man. Then there is also the type of women who just lie there like a log, thinking that consent to enter ie coitus is the sole contribution required on their part to the act of making love. So they deserve what they get.
Maya's friends have resorted to spying on her husband without her knowledge to get to the root of the problem. They now reveal to her what they discovered about Mr Missionary. "I'm afraid I've found out what's wrong with your husband" says Sosya, holding Maya's hand, looking at her in concern. Oh dear, Maya thought to herself, he is gay ... Brokeback Mountain. Every woman who is rejected by a man harbours a suspicion that he is gay. Otherwise they will just have to face facts and admit that he is just not that into them. Sosya continues "He likes stick insects." Maya frowns, puzzled. Letchoomi explains "He's a modeliser. He likes tall, very very thin, flat chested women with a boyish figure - so he's just 2 steps away from being gay .... he could be in denial, so he goes for women who resembles young boys."
Sigh, this is too grey for Maya. She likes things in black & white. Either he is gay or not. This is complicated. "How did you find out?" she asks. "He is dating last year's Miss Tofu International." replies Sosya. "I hear she's shortlisted for this year's Miss Soya Bean Universe" Letchoomi chips in helpfully. She can be Miss World Tumeric for all Maya cares. Her husband finds other women more attractive than her. She is shattered. She cannot evoke even an ounce of passion in him and he finds a woman who looks and feels like an ironing board much more desirable. Letchoomi and Sosya sees Maya's crestfallen face "Gosh, we're sorry. We didn't know you would take it so badly. We didn't know you like him that much."
"Well he is my husband"
"Yes we know dear, we attended your wedding. Are you even attracted to him?" Letchoomi asks.
"He is my husband" Maya repeats.
"We've been through this just now. We know he is your husband but do you like him? Are you attracted to him? Does he turn you on?"
Such painful questions which a wife must inevitably answer truthfully to herself. No, no, no... Yet the answers still point back an accusing finger at her - as the reason for the failure. The inability to evoke passion and to feel passion. She thought married couples reach this stage - of having perfunctory sex - after 10 years of marriage. Hers was a non starter to begin with.
What Maya doesn't realise is that Androo had a traumatic experience when he was 5 years old. One night, he was awakened by the sound of his mother howling like an animal in pain. He rushed to his parents room carrying his little blue teddy in one hand. Their door was slightly ajar so little Androo steps in. What he saw that night would remain etched in his memory for the rest of his life. His mother was on the floor, on all fours, starkers (totally nude). There was some kind of leather collar round her thick sweaty neck and a leather leash attached to it. His very hairy father was starkers too, mounting her from behind like a beast from hell, holding the other end of the leash. It was a grisly sight indeed. She was emitting this god awful guttural sound. Androo was transfixed in horror. Not knowing whether his mother needed rescuing. Not knowing whether it really is his mother. Not knowing whether they really are his parents.
So that, my good people, is why he likes to date androgenous women. In fact, he would prefer to date androids if he could find any. His only reason for having sex with these women is to dispel any gay rumours as he is quite a homophobic. Maya is too much a woman. She has lots of curves and is very soft to touch. It puts him off. He dates models so that other men will envy him. Other short men may compensate by driving a red Ferrari and in the old days, they would invade other countries kill Jews en masse to prove their manhood. These days the only shortie allowed to invade other countries and kill people en masse (this time its the Muslims) is President Bush. Androo resorts to dating models to compensate for his perceived lack of physical allure . There are other things he does which we may not quite comprehend. He was brought up a Hindu and was taught that eating beef is a big no no. Yet he purposely goes to a pub and orders roast beef and yorkshire pudding. In doing so he hopes to prove 2 things - that he is anglophile and that he is not bound by what he perceives are archaic rules. That he has the freedom to practise his religion as he sees fit. He doesn't even enjoy eating beef. Androo's Muslim best friend Oosman would order roast suckling pig at a Chinese restaurant and they would both consume it with great gusto - just to show that they are not shackled by useless rules and regulations. They organise a "buka puasa" (breaking of fast) event during Ramadan and only serve wine to the guests. This is their freedom of religion. In their quest to impress their western friends and to be more white than the whites, to convince them that they are "moderates" and "liberals", they have forgotten to respect their own people. Would I as a Muslim enter a Hindu temple with my shoes on? No, out of respect to the Hindus, I would take off my shoes before I enter. Would a Christian walk into a mosque with his shoes on? No, he would take his shoes off first. So why does a Muslim not respect his fellow Muslims during Ramadan? Why serve wine for buka puasa? You are just showing the westerners whom you want to impress so much, your lack of respect for your chosen religion and your people. Would you serve beef to a Hindu? You may think - aah, but that's his choice whether he wants to eat it or not. But your would also realise that it would be offensive to him, so you wouldn't do it - out of respect for him and his religion. But Androo and Oosman do not see it that way. It is their constitutional right to interpret their religion as they choose to. I'm all for that but before you exercise this right, take heed first that you do not ride roughshod over other people's beliefs and feelings. It is just a matter of courtesy. On one side your have the "fundamentalists" (a much maligned term) and the "extremists" wanting to impose their brand of religion and values on other people, on the other side you have Androo, Oosman and his pals promulgating total freedom of choice. Hell, I would like to be given the choice and freedom of bonking up against the frangipani tree at a public park like Charles and Camilla without worrying about a squad of voyeurs from Pejabat Ugama (Religious Department) rushing out from a nearby bush with their video cam to arrest me. I just want that choice but given that choice, I probably won't act on it because I would take into consideration that my actions would shock the delicate sensibilities of the pakcik & makcik (uncle & aunty) & their children having a nasi lemak picnic nearby. Out of respect and courtesy for them, I would not do it. These 2 opposite polars must find some means of meeting each other halfway and respecting each other's rights. In the words of the great master, Jalaludin Rumi - between Moses and Pharoah ... the Red Sea.
Sigh, lets move on back to Maya. A more palatable topic. Maya does not realise the complex and confused nature of her husband. But then, it is not up to her to unravel his dementia when he cannot even admit to himself that he has a problem in order to address it and to heal it. Whilst her friends are talking, she found herself staring at the chef. The Italian chef. He must be in his forties, she thought to herself. She is mesmerised by his strong hands as he chops the vegetables. Her eyes travel to his shoulders - he is built like a rugby player. Finally, as though he felt her eyes on him, he looks up, his brown eyes staring into her brown eyes. Time stood still. Maya forgets to breath. She is spellbound. He is captivated. Letchoomi and Sosya are intrigued - they stand up in unison, excusing themselves in a hurry to go to the bathroom. Maya and the Italian chef's eyes remain locked. He strides towards her, still maintaining eye contact, and says to her "I want to make love to you." Maya's head reels in shock. So many questions she wants to ask him. So many questions she should ask him but all she managed to say was "Now?" The chemistry between them was intense and overpowering. She doesn't know how long they stood there staring at each other. She doesn't know when Letchoomi and Sosya left the restaurant. She has a vague recollection of him locking the door after they left. She remembers him whispering into her ear "Open your mouth" which she instantly obeyed. She remembers him cracking open a raw egg and sliding the cool raw egg into her mouth, telling her not to break the yolk. She remembers him sliding his warm tongue into her mouth and gently pushing the egg yolk into his mouth without breaking it. They continue passing the egg between them in this slow sensous manner, until finally, the yolk breaks into both their mouths, merging them in that beautiful moment. The moment of Maya's awakening.
You may be wondering - did they have sex? Did the breaking of the yolk signify climax? And I am telling you that Maya made love and was made love to for the first time in her life. Yes, there is a difference between sex and making love, between lust and love. How many of us are fortunate enough to experience true love making - with just a caress of the eyes, a finger trailing up your arm, a warm breath behind your ear, a gentle kiss delicately placed on your wrist? Sadly, not many of us can distinguish the difference between lust and love. Between passion and need. It is rare indeed to look across a room and stare into the eyes of a person whom you have never met before and instantly, at that moment, know that this is the man you want, the man you want to be with for the rest of your life, the man who blurs the distinction between lust and love, merging them into an act of sheer and utter bliss. A man who torments you to near madness by giving you unbearable pleasure. Have you ever met such a person in your life? Have you ever been so divinely blessed in your life? Have you ever been so intoxicated?