Mr Stephanos was a small man. When he walked into Dogg’s house, he was bent under a heavy weight. Dogg offered him a chair. He settled into it and placed his briefcase on the floor beside him. His eyes rolled about the room, taking in the poor surroundings.

Mr Stephanos had been poor. But now he was rich.

For years, like  thousands of Malayali Christians, he had worked away from the green, green grass of his homeland, Kerala, in the sweltering heat of Third World nation- states as a missionary. His reward was the almighty dollar, sheaves of which he had gathered for his two daughters.

Mr Stephanos was worried. Deep crevasses lined his cheeks. His hair had thinned out, his jaw sagged and the loose strands of his hair were a sickly grey. He looked depressed.

“I am leaving for Papua New Guinea tomorrow and I thought I must meet you,” he began. “You must pray for me and my family.”

Dogg observed him silently as he picked his nose, took out a handkerchief and blew snot into it.

“We were back here, my wife and I, during the Christmas season. Sarah must have told you about the car accident we were in. My wife’s jaw was broken, she was in a coma for days. I had severe concussion and contusions.  By God’s grace, we escaped death. You seem, we couldn’t visit you earlier because we were undergoing Ayurvedic massage and treatment,” he said.

Dogg nodded.

“I…I really wanted to spend some time with you,” he stammered, “but I could only come today.”

It had become dark outside.

“It is about Sarah. She has turned into a beast. She will not get married. I want her to study too. She refuses to do so. Worse, she is in cahoots with her mother. They have diverted my money elsewhere. I can get no satisfactory explanations from her about her plans for the future. I want my little Sarah back. You must help with prayer and make her understand that her father has only her best interests in mind,” he said.

“You cannot have Sarah the child back, she has become a woman,” Dogg said.

“But … I must … have her back,” he stuttered, brokenly.

He was a father whose dreams had disappeared into a noxious atmosphere, a husband whose wife despised him, a poor man turned rich from the gains of the Gospel but one who saw only ghosts all around him and death beckoning him onwards with skeletal fingers.

“You must help me,” he whispered.

Dogg was silent.

“You know, Sarah has become a stranger to me. She cares nothing about what I think or say. Mummy and I have been in Papua New Guinea. She has lived alone in our Kumbanad house with her cousin, the same house you have always been welcome in. I have come to know that she has moved around with him in his car and jeep. She sold off my car without telling me about it. Of course, she handed me the money. But she has gained notoriety. You know what people say about my daughter, that she has something going on with her first cousin …Incest …. When I told her this must stop, she flared up. Help her understand the harm such gossip will do to an unmarried girl,” he said.

Mr Stephanos left on tottering feet, a look of misery etched on his face.

A few days later Sarah dropped in.

“What happened between you and your father?” he asked.

“He is a beast. Can you believe it?” she asked angrily. “Ever heard of a father calling his daughter a whore and accusing her of sleeping with her cousin? He’s the opposite of what others see him as, the holy preacher, the enterprising missionary. He’s a beast. You know me. Tell me, do you think I am immoral? Do you think I have something going on with my cousin? Yes, I defended our relationship, it has been purely platonic. When father and mother weren’t here and I fell terribly sick, I had nobody. Where were they? Friends did not look me up. He took me to the hospital and looked after me till I recovered. He has always cared for me. I like him. But there has never been anything else between us,” she said.

“You don’t know what a scene there was that night at home. Daddy had gone raving mad. He kept yelling filthy epithets at me. I told him that if he thinks I am immoral and tells his relatives and others that I am so, I would hang myself. There was a terrible row. I ran upstairs to my room. My mother was wailing. She ran after me fearing I would kill myself. I actually ran upstairs to shut the door of my room and pray to God that all this anger and rage within me towards my father would be flushed out and cleansed so I could face his accusations with a sober, gentle mind,” she explained.

Dogg just listened.

“You are 26, you know some things about life and living and you have faith that God is with you. You must find your own way,” he told her.

“It is good that Daddy has left. I had determined not to live in that house if he kept up his ranting. You don’t know how much Mummy has suffered at his hands. I am not going to let him push me into a corner. He was jealous that I had discovered work that I liked, designing clothes for my customers. He thinks I should be studying and get married like any other girl. I don’t mind getting married but I am not going to marry just anybody just to satisfy him,” she hissed.

Dogg kept listening.

“My eldest sister was forced into marriage by Daddy and Mummy when she was just eighteen. She didn’t have any idea what it all meant. She ran out screaming from the nuptial chamber the first night, I remember. Her marriage has ended in a divorce. I am not going to let that happen to me,” she said, a stubborn look on her face.

She drew a deep breath and tears began rolling down her cheeks.

“I have faith in God. I believe He will provide me with a husband, just the right husband,” she sniffed.

Dogg had first met her at a prayer meeting of the Evangelicals United ten years ago. It was a small house. The students sat on mats and, one by one, spoke aloud of those matters that troubled their souls. They had the faith that God listens to the prayers of men and women, even children. After all, He had provided everything for every human being in His Son Jesus Christ who died on a cross in Palestine 2000 years ago.

The prayers ascended like the smoke of frankincense in the quiet room. Occasionally, someone would sob or weep, the burdens on the heart rendered in tears. They would take a break and speak of answered prayers to strengthen their belief that the God of love always listens and answers prayer.

Sarah was small built. At 16, she had a short, boyish haircut. She was dressed simply but stylishly, in drainpipe jeans and a blue checked shirt. She was flat chested. Her hips had not yet widened into those of a woman ready to bear children. Her eyes were golden-brown, her skin an even brown and silken. Her eyes drew him. Her voice was soft and gentle, like that of a teenaged boy whose voice was yet to crack.

She spoke of her car being stolen, about how her parents were distraught. Then she had entered her closet and prayed. The next day the car was discovered by the police, it did not have a scratch upon it. God answers prayer, she said simply.

“You have penetrated a mystery,” Dogg told her when the meeting was over. They became friends.

A few years later, her parents brought up the subject of her marriage.

Look for a man who will be a worthy husband for our Sarah, a God-fearing man” they told him.

Slaving away in an island country bringing the Gospel to Aborigine heathen, they left her to live alone in her big ancestral house. Dogg would drop in there to say hello and chat with her. Out of the corner of his eye he watched her learning to take life in her stride, she was growing up.

Her mother told him once, “Our Sarah is sensitive and innocent. She used to wet her bed till she was 16.” Sarah was embarrassed. But she put on a brave face.

“Even now, I have a weak bladder. I am always afraid that if I don’t get to a toilet fast enough, I will wet myself,” she said, giggling nervously.

She graduated and concentrated on her business, running it from home. She had always had good taste in choosing her clothes. Now her well-designed clothes were selling like hot cakes at the local boutiques. She had begun thinking of exporting her creations.

She had a way with people. She charmed them into buying her designs and made good money. She also had a lot of money her parents had bequeathed her. Gospel business is good business. Generous to a fault, she remained a big spender, on herself and others.

One day, Dogg went to see her. She wasn’t around.

Her mother said: “We have been trying our best to get her married. Sarah is not interested. Several eligible young men have come for her. She talks to them, they desire her. But in the end, she says that they are just not right for her. She will not tell us what sort of person she wants either. Do something to get her to agree to marry the next suitable boy who comes along.”

Dogg tried some persuasion.

“The ones I have seen are no good. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with them really. But in my heart, I know that none of the boys I have met are for me,” she would say.

Her parents scolded her. She was becoming a burden because she would not marry, because she was quickly reaching that age beyond which she would not be able to get the “best”. That’s how it is in Kerala and most of India, the conservatives and traditionalists like their children married away by 18 if possible, if not earlier.

The mother was a bit distraught. She was getting older. It was only a matter of time before death came knocking and it would be a shame to die without seeing her youngest daughter married and settled.

“How can she be so unconcerned about her future? Every woman needs a man. Most of the boys seeking her hand are eminently well qualified. They have a good education, they belong to aristocratic families, they have passports and can easily get jobs abroad. She has enough both by way of inheritance and her own efforts. There is a big dowry. Why can’t she settle down?” her father asked him.

“There is one thing you can do. Pray that her mind expands and her heart’s boundaries are extended to include a man in her life,” Dogg replied.

One day, her mother telephoned him from the land of the aborigines. He heard drums beating in the background.

“I was thinking, is it that Sarah does not know what marriage is or she fears it?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean this …we have not told her about, you know, the sexual element in marriage. You know we have always been conservative. I could never get myself to tell my daughters about the onset of puberty. I waited till each one had her first period and then I told them what it meant, that they had become women, fertile women who could get pregnant. But I never told them how one becomes pregnant and things like that. Her elder sister’s marriage was destroyed because I couldn’t tell her how things would be. I think I have done wrong. But I still can’t get myself to ask her what it is she is afraid of about marriage. It may be she has strange ideas about the sexual aspect of marriage and fears it. She might have got some ideas from her college mates, they may be the wrong sort of ideas.”

“How can I speak to her about such things?” he asked. “I am a married man. Maybe my wife should speak to her.”

“Oh no, I know that she really trusts you. She is open with you and feels no embarrassment in your presence. I think you should do it. Tell her about the birds and the bees, how it is done and the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother. Then one is not only a fertile woman but also a whole woman. She cannot continue as a stubborn, happy-go-lucky person. She must grow up,” she said.

That was when he took a closer look at Sarah. He had always regarded her as a girl-child, a little sister, these ten years. But when he went to see her after that telephone call, his eyes were opened.

Sarah had grown up. Her small breasts were bigger now. Her hips had widened. There was smell of woman about her piercing through the scent she wore. When she walked, he watched her bottom swaying with the suggestiveness of a fecund woman. The way she cocked her eyes at him or others when she spoke indicated that she had become a woman, albeit one who did not know herself.

The knowledge that she was now a woman awoke strange desires in him. No longer did he see her as a sister, a girl-child. And he had a job to do!

He gently broached the subject of her marriage. She gave him her stock answer: “I believe the Lord will bring me my husband. In the moment I set my eyes upon him, I will know that he is the one. There is no one I care for right now. I have these friends but I see them only as friends. I cannot see myself living with any of these people,” she said.

“Sarah, do you know what marriage is?” he asked.

“Well, two people love one another, live together, eat together, sleep together and have babies together, isn’t that what it is all about?” she asked.

“Do you know how babies are made?” he asked.

“From what my friends say, it has something to do with the man sleeping with the woman,” she replied.

“Promise me you won’t get angry if I speak of some things,” he said.

She nodded.

“Do you know anything about sexual relationships, the sexual act? Has your mind and body taught you anything about such things?” he ventured.

She seemed to recoil from him, a look of wariness came into her eyes. Fear, perhaps.

“Let me explain, Sarah. Your mother asked me to talk to you about such things. She thinks you have no idea about such things. But do you trust me enough to tell you about such things?” he asked.

She crossed her legs and began swinging her left leg to and fro.

“Ummmm…”she said.

“What do you think happens between man and woman when they are in bed?” he asked.

“Well, you know every time such a scene appeared on television or in a film, my mother would ask us to close our eyes or fast-forward the film playing on the video record player,” she said.

It took him several days before she would say the word “penis” or “vagina”. It was as if she did not want such words or organs to exist. It was harder for him to get her to say “cock” and “cunt”.

She sat wide-eyed as he told her about kissing, French kissing, foreplay, intercourse, after-play, condoms, vaginal lubricants, the Pill, the Loop.

“The whole body is an erogenous zone. Has your body spoken to you about such things?” he asked.

“No, I always thought these things are dirty, that they are for dirty purposes, I never gave it much thought,” she replied.

A virgin mind, he thought amazed, at 26. And in this modern age!

“Haven’t you ever explored your body, touched your breasts and watched the nipples grow erect, put your finger into your vagina, found it wet, smelt it and wondered what it is for? Have you ever masturbated?” he asked.

“No, what is that? My vagina is moist when I get my periods and I always have severe cramps and pain. You think it’s enjoyable? M-a-s-t-u-r-b-a-t-e, what sort of word is that? It sounds strange,” she said rolling the word about on her tongue with a strange pleasure.

“I don’t believe you, Sarah. You can’t be so ignorant. Don’t your girlfriends speak of such things? Most people masturbate, boys and girls and married people too. Now quit fooling with me,” he said.

She laughed gaily.

“I really know nothing of such things,” she said.

These meetings grew important for him and her. For him, he was discovering a form of arousal talking about sexual things. He wondered if the entire exercise was not the verbal seduction of a virgin. By giving her knowledge about sexual things, by rousing her consciousness to her own sexuality and of others, was he not deflowering her? Was this adultery?

She did not understand one thing. She did not see that she was opening herself to him, her head tilted attentively to one side, that quick smile appearing often on her lips or a startled look leaping out of her eyes, in a way she might never open up to her own husband! It gave him a sense of power.

Each day, it increased, his knowledge of her body, how it functioned, how it felt and how it responded to biochemical and emotional triggers. But not a breath was exchanged between them, much less a kiss or a touch. There would never be an exchange of body fluids, he knew.

She was always dressed primly and properly when she received him. She was always courteous, respecting his knowledge and coming to an understanding without internal conflict. She was a woman of intelligence and a woman of faith, but would she come to her senses?

Soon he knew that she was just waiting for him to come so they could talk about sex. She was losing her shyness. She told him how she had stood before the mirror looking at her breasts but still dared not touch them in a way that would arouse her. She would never masturbate, she told him.

“I can’t get myself to do it!” she said. That was that.

He told her about the existence of her clitoris. She was surprised when she found something like that in her body. She confessed that when she touched herself there, strange sensations began in her, spreading ripple-like in concentric circles across the expanse of her stomach.

“You know you can go on and discover what an orgasm is,” he tempted her.

“But I am keeping it for my husband. He must be the first to experience my orgasm,” she said quietly. “There is none other to whom I will give my body,” she said.

“To what extent would you surrender your body to him?” he asked her, a wicked look in his eyes. “If he asked you to masturbate for him, would you do that?”

She shot him an electrifying look and then quickly regained her composure.

Weeks went by.

He found a book with clinical explanations of practices like cunnilingus, fellatio and anal sex, their pros and cons, with illustrations. Together, they went through its pages.

She could not believe that any woman would take a man’s organ into her mouth. The pictures of erect penises made her hold her breath. He explained how the blood vessels in the penis are filled when the man is aroused and the little beast rises up, engorged and ready to do the woman’s bidding.

“When a man does not have a woman at hand he has the option of masturbating, stroking his erect penis till he spurts his semen and his senses explode with the orgasm. But it is not half as exciting as when a woman sucks his cock and he ejaculates,” he said.

“How dirty, how is it possible?” she asked, a look of horror on her face. The girl-child had appeared again.

“Now look at this picture. The man has his mouth to the woman’s vagina. Do you think he would do it if he thought it was dirty? The body and its orifices are not dirty. Or they would not be erogenous zones. The juxtaposition of the erogenous zones with the organs of evacuation of feces and urine is something interesting, isn’t it?  Love has made her palace in the place of excrement, nevertheless it is a palace and there are exotic delights therein,” he said.

“If your husband wanted to put his mouth to your cunt and give you pleasure you have not even been able to imagine, would you say no?” he asked.

She was silent.

“Do you think your husband would do that if he thought your cunt was a dirty place, that your womanly smell was terrible, that that is the place from where your blood flows at that time of the month while your face turns pale and your stomach churns with pain? And would you deny yourself the pleasure he has to give you because you think of these parts of your body as dirty?’ he asked.

She was silent.

A scene from a Luis Bunuel film flashed through his mind. In it a character quoted a philosopher who said that women were but “sacks of excrement” surfaced. Ah, but Dogg had always been drawn to these sacks, to the vomit. He would never tire of seeking to open them up, peer within, enter into and eat them up. He wanted them in him and wrapped around him, all of them. Then he would curl up into a fetal ball and sleep.

Sex and repentance, repentance and sex, this was the eternal cycle, the serpent with its tail in its mouth. Every time he copulated, he found a satisfaction nothing else could give him on earth. Almost immediately afterwards he would dive into the depths of contented sleep like a babe, existence forgotten. But when he awoke, the Beast would be there again, making demands, growling with hunger.

For him, it was a battle, a struggle to come to terms with the Beast. It had always been there, right from the time he had read his first pornographic book, thrust under his nose by friends in school, rousing in him the need to know and understand this power in his loins.

Or was it in his head? N. always said that sex was “something in the head”.

Sometimes he confused the Beast with feelings of love. Sometimes, he saw the Beast only too clearly and abhorred himself in the face of its power, tossed about by its horn.

The Beast is entrapped in every human being. Where was it that he had read about coming to terms with it? Joseph L. Henderson wrote: “By learning to love Beast, she awakens to the power of human love concealed in its animal (and therefore imperfect) but genuinely erotic form.”

Many had met the Beast, loved it, mastered it and transcended it. Each being chooses his or her path in this voyage of self-discovery and self-actualization. Most are unable to recognize the Beast and it devours them.

Ride the Beast, one must.

Then one must leave the Beast behind, tethered and grazing, he thought.

But first one must find the Beast everywhere, in oneself, in the air.

He remembered the story of a Catholic saint. Before he became a saint, he had been a beast in love with a beauty. She was a very beautiful woman who spurned all his advances. He pursued her relentlessly, his mind filled with the tumult of the stampeding Beast. One twilit even, she beckoned to him. He followed her to what he thought was a secret rendezvous with her but it was with another.

His heart beat fast, she paused at the far end of a pathway strewn with azaleas and bounded on both sides by giant firs. She beckoned to him to come to her into that wild bower. He stepped up to her, his eyes afire with longing. Her face was pale in the pale light and his being ballooned with the Beast-lust.

The Beast neighed and stamped his feet, he thought his heart leapt with love. With a gentle motion, she threw open her bodice. There in that moment between light and darkness, in the shadow that fell between them, he saw her breasts eaten away and rotten with cancer. If he put his nose to them, he would have smelt decay. If he put his tongue to her nipples, twisted and torn, pussy and pungent, he would have tasted death. He fled with a loud cry. He forsook everything to follow God.

The Beast had risen up from the sea but its head was crushed.

Dogg knew he would never see her naked. But she was naked for him. Her soul was bared to him and to it were appended those parts of her body. He could touch her, every intimate part of her by means of his words and hers. Every word has to do with the body-soul complex, every word enshrined the body and soul. If he could touch the words, he could touch her and ravish her.

Those who have spoken of such things in intimacy have undressed themselves for one another. These long evenings were theirs, there was no need for the physical. This was the physical and more, in words.

Sexuality is not a matter of the body but a state of mind. Pornography is passion disturbed, disguised, distorted.

Eros lay somewhere else.

Each time, he conversed with her, he was sated in a way he had never been sated before.

“Strange,” Dogg mused. “This intimacy doesn’t interfere with my love for my wife or my sexual life with her. Rather, it enriches me.”

It was as if there were multiple selves within him. One was married and safely, sweetly, ensconced in a blissful routine. Another was engaged in a game of words with a virgin, territory explored tentatively and carefully so that there would be no rupture in the relationship, only a deepening of a bond that had its roots in an innocence but was now tainted by carnal knowledge.

Beauty and the Beast.

It went on, this business. There is a thin line between knowledge and perversion. When all the fundamentals of talk had been dispensed with, there were silences between them. They would sit alone having exhausted the discussion. He would begin wondering how he could give the Beast new life.

Voyeurism, exhibitionism, coprophilia, necrophilia, homosexuality, bondage, sadomasochism, pedophilia, sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, pederasty, menstrual fantasies … they had run the gamut.

In the process, she began remembering things. When she was a child in Nigeria, the girl-next-door had become pregnant. She was 13 and wept all the time. Now she had an idea about how she could have got herself into such a situation without being married. She spoke of images rising up, watching her older girlfriend being French-kissed by her boyfriend, a girl masturbating in a bed beside her in a summer camp, her cousin coming up out of the bath in a see-through towel …

Sarah often lived with her 24-year-old cousin, Shelley. She ate her meals at her neighbor’s as she did not have the inclination or energy to cook her own meals. She slept at her neighbor’s at night. But now she saw clearly. She could understand why the woman  who slept with her in the same room disappeared some nights into her husband’s room and appeared the next morning with a strange glow in her eyes and all over her body.

With it came questions too. Really, did most women masturbate and most boys? Did her cousin masturbate?

“Examine his sheets, you will find those dry, starched patches on the sheets where his semen has dried up, you can’t mistake them,” he told her.

“You are right,” she said.

He often wondered if he was crossing the borders of knowledge and piercing a world of perversion framed by words. Words are for the using but they have their boundaries, don’t they?

What if words just flew everywhere unbound? What maelstrom would they unleash?

He decided to get her a book written by a woman who had researched the sexual fantasies of women. He found it an intriguing book, giving him insight into many aspects of the feminine psyche.

One insight he gained was that every woman is possessive, clinging, cloying … every woman is afraid that she will one day turn unattractive for the man in her life. Women with such fears react in different ways. One sort turns into the suspicious shrew, always complaining to herself and others about the man in her life and suspecting his intentions and motives, finding him below her expectations and branding him a hypocrite. Another sort takes a leap into sexual liberation, seeking fulfillment in sexual engagements with many men and women. And they would all still leave such women unfulfilled and longing for love.

There is also the silent, suffering woman, the one who feels betrayed by men and sex and then turns to God in her misery. Sadhvis.

Whose lot was happier would remain a mystery to him. Somehow he knew that women are born to misery, not just the misery imposed by men, but a misery they weave for themselves, sewn together with strands of self-pity, ignorance, insecurity, an inferiority complex and, worst of all, a kind of blind religious piety and morality under which swirled passions and sexual powers that sometimes exceeded that of men.

As for himself, everything swam into focus only when it turned into material for writing.

The writer never fears experiences. Every experience is a portal. In many ways, sexual experience for him was limited to the expanse of words and the feelings they evoked. The act would be enshrouded in silence and afterwards he would hunt for the words with which to describe what he had encountered through the senses and the emotions.

Sarah and his odyssey of telling her about the birds and the bees were material for a story, this story.

Would you like to view some videotapes, blue films? he asked her.

No, came the reply.

Would you like to look at some pornographic magazines?

No, came the reply.

The game was nearing its end. The line was drawn between knowledge and indulgence.

The Beast was caged.

Had he used her? Was it another form of exploitation of the weaker sex? Had it been adultery? Was it mutual masturbation?

Had she used him? So be it, he thought.

His odyssey, and hers, had come to an end.

He was sitting one day with her, she sat across the dining table, and he began reading out from a book. He was reading out a woman’s coprophilic fantasy but it left a bad taste in his own mouth and a look of horror on her face. He shied away from giving her the book as a gift. It would be uncouth of him, he felt. She was not uncouth either.

The thin grey line between knowledge and true perversion was left uncrossed, he knew. Almost instinctively, they had hammered into place between themselves strong, well-chiseled marker stones to map out the space between pragmatic reality and perverse fantasy. It was all done without any words.

She was rather well aware of sexual matters now, he thought satisfied.

His job was done.

What would someone else think about the times he had spent with her? he wondered.

What did it matter, anyway?

He had kept himself pure. She remained pure. They had eaten together a different kind of forbidden fruit, discussed matters a married man and an unmarried virgin ought not to have discussed, and they remained alive and vibrant and friends. The verbal encounters had been pleasurable.

Was it perversion? The doubt remained but, like most doubts, it faded away with time.

Yes, there was another incident she told him about. It seemed to prove that coincidences happen when the ground is prepared, turned over, ready for the plowing and the sowing.

She told him how an old man had accosted her in the lane leading to her house.

“Daughter, daughter,” he had called out.

She halted in her steps.

“Oh,” he said peering into her face, “you are not my daughter but you look so much like my daughter. I am sorry, please don’t misunderstand me, but where do you live, my daughter? ”

“Just down the lane,” she replied, pointing to her house.

He touched her gently on her cheek and walked away.

A few days later, he appeared at her doorstep at dusk. The women who did her tailoring had left. She wondered why he was there.

“My daughter, I just wanted to remember her by seeing you and conversing with you a while,” said the old man.

“He must have been over sixty years old,” Sarah told Dogg. “He sat down and began talking a lot, about his first wife and her death, about their only daughter and how she was far away from him, living with her husband in another state. Then he began to say some strange things, about how he had taken a second wife, much younger than him and beautiful. She loved to be touched by him, he said, she loved to lie beside him. But she too is dead, he said. I miss her so, he said.”

Sarah became wary of the old man.

“I have to go, my dinner is waiting for me next door,” she said.

She went into her living room from the porch to brush her hair. Some instinct made her turn around. He was there, looming over her. She could see the grey hairs sticking out of his chin, his feverish eyes, his thick lips, his hands rising up very fast, engulfing her in a crushing embrace. Then his mouth was crushing her lips, his thick tongue, wet and darting, pushing its way into her mouth, his hands squeezed her breasts and something hard was poking her in her stomach from under his white dhoti.

She began shivering as she spoke.

“It was horrible, it was horrible. I felt everything going dim and the floor and walls were swaying. I cried out and pushed hard at him. He was incoherently whispering “my daughter, my sweet daughter” as I broke out of his hold and ran up the driveway screaming. My neighbor’s wife came running out. We saw the old man rushing by us on winged feet to disappear into the falling night. I did not stop shaking for hours afterwards and she stroked my hair and kept comforting me. The boys in the neighborhood hunted for him but he was gone. It was horrible … the Beast,” she said brokenly.

“Shhh, shhh …” Dogg comforted her.

That was the last time he discussed anything about the Beast with her.

Thinking of the Beast brings him alive.

Some months later, she brought over a girlfriend of hers whose fiance was in the United States of America.

“Could Sindhu use your computer to send emails to and receive them from her fiance?” Sarah asked.

“Sure,” Dogg replied. “And what news is there about your father?” he asked.

“You know, Mummy flew out a couple of weeks back. Daddy had some heart trouble and had to undergo bypass surgery. Mummy wanted to be beside him to look after him. I am just waiting for her to return. I cannot stay alone any longer. She will be back soon and I am looking forward to it. Then, perhaps, something will work out about my marriage … ”

“Did you tell her about what happened to you?” he asked.

“It would have only added to her worries,” she replied.

“And your father, is he still angry with you?”

“He telephoned me several times. He always sounds very loving now and apologetic. My sister phoned me to say that Daddy wants to apologize for all the accusations he leveled at me. He wants me to forgive him for all the things he said. I told my sister to tell him that between a daughter and a father there exist mutual forgiveness, there is no need to ask for forgiveness. Nothing need be said about these things any more.”

Dogg had got the computer running for Sindhu.

“There’s only one problem,” he told Sindhu. “When I open up your fiance’s e-mails to save them to the hard drive, or when I send out your e-mails, I will be able to read all the intimate thoughts you will be communicating to each other. Do you mind?”

Sindhu was another innocent creature.

“I trust you not to read it too closely,” she said.

“What does it matter anyway?” Sarah said. “We all know what lovers tell one another and do.”

Dogg felt supremely happy.


One comment on “SLAYING THE BEAST

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