No Porn!

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Bikfram and Divya Pandy are the owners of my guesthouse. Rahul is their hairy-legged, nasally-congested twenty-two year old son. For the last few days, he has found all sorts of excuses for stopping by my room- to give me a spontaneous Hindi lesson, to let me know that mineral water is available downstairs, to make sure that my fan is working.

Today he stopped by to see if I wanted an extra pen drive for my laptop. Since my pen drive is broken, I said yes. He said that before he gave it to me, he would need to clear some files.

I was packing up and getting ready to leave for the day, but I told him he could have a seat on the opposite bed, and empty the files into my computer’s recycle bin. I made sure the door was wide open, and gave him plenty of space to work.

As I puttered around, folding clothes and organizing my backpack, I was lost in thoughts. I forgot about Rahul until I heard him snorting back some snot. His congestion always seemed to be a problem. I looked up, and Rahul had a naughty smile on his pudgy face.  I was instantly on guard.

“What, Rahul?!” I asked, pausing mid-fold.

“Oh, nothing,” he said in a sing-song voice. He continued to grin like he had a delicious little secret.

“Okay then,” I said, shrugging and going back to my clothes.

He waited another moment and then said to my back, “I am just clearing some… interesting files right now.”

I turned around again, hands on my hips.

“What kind of files, Rahul?” I asked. I shouldn’t have asked him anything.

He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye.

“Porn,” he said, waiting for a reaction. I was silent. “Do you like porn?” he asked.

In that moment, our previously polite barriers broke down, and I found myself with a wonderful opportunity on my hands.

“Porn?” I said, narrowing my eyes, and turning to face him. “It’s none of your business if I like porn. Why would you even ask me that? I hardly know you.”

He looked rather surprised, and a bit chagrined.

“Rahul,” I said, “I think Indian men have the entirely wrong idea about Western women.”

This was my chance, and I was taking it. “I bet if I was an Indian girl, you never would have told me you had porn on your pen drive, would you?!”

He looked at me, fear in his eyes. I went on, delighted to have this rapt audience of one. I had been subjected to harassment, inuenndo, and outright unwanted touch for months now, and poor Rahul was about to be the recipient of all of my pent up rage.

“I want to tell you something, Rahul,” I went on. “Just because a woman has white skin and comes from the west, it DOES NOT mean that she likes your porn, or that she is a whore… do you know what a whore is?”

Rahul nodded, his eyes huge.

“Okay then! Just because we come from the west, it DOES NOT mean that we are whores, that we want to sleep with every man we meet, or that we enjoy being stared at or harassed. Western women are just like Indian girls, but we look different!” I said. “This idea that you all have about us being like the women in your porn movies is WRONG! We are just normal girls who you should treat like your own sister! We are not sex maniacs!!”

Rahul had dropped his head towards the end of this speech, and when he looked back up, his entire demeanor had changed. His shoulders were slumped, and there was a woebegone look in his eyes. He looked like a child who has just been told that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. He was crushed.

“I’m sorry, Rahul,” I said, a little more gently. I suddenly felt bad. I had clearly just destroyed this young man’s dreams, his lascivious, greedy, frothing, slippery, ignoble ideas about what a Western woman is.

“I’m sorry,” I said again. “But really, Rahul, I’m helping you. If you ever want to make friends with a Western girl, or even have a Western girlfriend…”

Rahul looked up, his eyes shining with fervent hope.

“…Then you’ll have to learn to behave yourself. You’ll have to put your porn away, and give up your ideas of white women being wild about having sex with you. It’s just not true.”

Rahul sighed and said nothing for a moment. I allowed some time to pass in silence so that this new, unfortunate news could sink in. When he finally looked up again, he was smiling.

“Thank you, Sarah,” he said. “I think this is good for me to hear, no?” I nodded, feeling more empathetic towards him. “I’m sorry if I offended you,” he continued. Then he went back to work clearing the files off his pen drive.

Unfortunately for Rahul, in his zeal to give me the pen drive, he accidentally deleted all of his porn. He searched, but it was to no avail, and he finally gave up.

I zipped up my backpack, laughing. “Karma, Rahul,” I said, heaving the bag onto my back. “You see, you ask me if I like porn, and what happens? You lose all your porn! Never ask a woman if she likes porn again, unless she’s your girlfriend, okay?”

He nodded somberly, and then asked for my email address. “I can write you from Delhi, and maybe give you Hindi lessons,” he said. I took the pen and paper he offered me, and gave him an old email address. Underneath my name, I wrote “No Porn!” He saw the message and started laughing. “This way you won’t forget me!” I said with a smile.

“And by the way,” I continued, “Does your mother know you like porn?”

Rahul’s eyes got huge, and he darted a look at the door.

“No!” he said in a whisper.

“Should I tell her?” I asked, looking very serious.

He stared back at me in disbelief and terror.

“No,” he said again, his voice trailing off.

“Maybe I’ll just tell her…” I said, walking towards the door.

“No, Sarah, NO!” Rahul cried, jumping up and running after me.

“I’m just kidding, Rahul,” I said. “But seriously, start treating women the way that you would if your mother was in the room, and you might make more friends, okay?”

He nodded in relief, and managed a smile. I patted him on the back, and ushered him out of the room. When we parted ways, we were friends once again.

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2 Responses to No Porn!

  1. sheila says:

    Go Sarah! What a funny, funny story. Hopefully Rahul will remember this lessoon in life and maybe, just maybe, look at Western women with new eyes.

    But I sure wouldnt bet the rent on it!

  2. Very Funny Sarah. I had to check where you were. I was missing you. Take care.

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