I thought Shankar’s sister was hot. She was the only girl in the neighborhood that had gotten into medical school, and ever since Rex told me about the things (he thought) Medical students did, I had the hots for them. The only problem was that Shankar happened to be my friend, so I had to watch it. Plus she was a good ten years older than me, so yeah, I really had to watch it. That didn’t stop me from trying to talk to her as much as I could, and bragging to my friends in school that I had a girlfriend. Of course, I didn’t tell them that I called her Akka – that was totally besides the point.
Whenever I went to Shankar’s place, she would be sitting on the sofa, or on their mottai madi , reading a Mills and Boone. She seemed to have an endless supply of the books.
It was my Hardy Boy’s phase, and I’d never come across M&B before. But, I had this vague notion that these were naughty books, reinforced by the covers that almost always had a pretty girl (and her cleavage) hugging a shirtless guy. To make sure my hypothesis was right, I went and asked an older friend. “Oh, they are sex books alright,” he assured me.
After this revelation, the object of my amorous attentions was no longer her, but the books. I resolved to read one of them, come what may. The next time Shankar and I were alone in his house, I asked him (rather rudely, in retrospect): “Hey, can we read one of those sex books that your sister has?”
“Man, how did you know?”
I was taken aback by this unexpected response, and muttered something about a friend at school, but he was too excited to care about my response.
“It’s an awesome book you know, it has pictures.”
“Pictures?” Damn, this was better than I thought. “And your dad doesn’t mind her reading them all the time?”
“No, why would he?”
As I was trying to figure out what this meant, he went in and brought a book back. He flipped through the book purposefully, and as soon as he located what he wanted to, directed my attention to it. He was pointing to a picture of a nude woman from his sister’s anatomy textbook.
PS : Check out this Guardian column byZoe Williams, where she talks about Mills and Boon launching a new line that will “tackle the harder edges of life – cancer, divorce, difficult children, the whole raft of dissatisfaction and weltschmertz that might beset the modern female as she lights some candles, sinks into a bath and, er, does those things that ladies do.” I did, and it triggered some memories.