Padmini turns over on her stomach and drags the basket to the bed. “So many mangoes, “she says, gazing at the basket. She looks up. “Are you sure they’re all for me?”
“Every one of them, “he says, exhilarated by the greed he glimpses in her eyes. He feels the pang of a familiar longing. How many baskets would he need to make her his own?
She rolls the mango between her palms to soften the insides. “Lajjo says the foreign mems eat magoes with spoons, can you imagine?” She laughs. “Maybe that’s what I should do—be your English memsahib.” She bats her eyelids and puckers her mouth into an exaggerated kiss.
“Maybe you should, “he says. He wills the longing to disappear. He has given up the idea of possessing her, he reminds himself, he has resolved to be satisfied with what she gives.
“Why, is my skin not fair enough for you?” she pouts, lying back on her pillow and bringing the mango to her lips. She peels the skin off the top with her teeth. “I used to have so many mangoes, growing up in Ratnagiri.” Juice dribbles out as she sucks at the mango, it trickles down her chin and pools beneath her throat.
Vishnu wants to follow that trail of juice, blot it drop by drop off her skin with his tongue. This is what he has taught himself to be content with—the pleasure of her body, when she allows it, and nothing more. He believes then that his visits will continue forever, a string of lightbulbs glittering through the reaches of his future.
Padmini squeezes the mango to push out more pulp. But she presses too hard, and the whole seed slips out—it lands on her chin and slides down to her chest. She shrieks and tries to grab the seed, but it is covered with pulp and slips out of her grasp. She laughs as she chases the seed over her body, catching it finally at the base of her abdomen.
“Give me that, “Vishnu says, and rubs it over her belly, as if it were a bar of soap. A swath of pulp glistens on her skin.
“Everywhere, “she instructs, so he scrubs her waist, and lathers between her legs.
“My mango queen,” he says, when the mango is spent. Her skin is wet, pieces of yellow pulp stick to her breasts, her stomach, the hair between her thighs.
He tastes her neck first. It is sweet with mango, salty with sweat. He moves downwards, capturing the dabs of pulp with his mouth, lingering at each nipple, stopping to sip the liquid collected in her navel. She gets saltier as he descends, and more aromatic, as if the mango is mixed with something pungent in the earth from which it has sprung. As he enters her, his tongue encounters a sweetness not encountered before in these folds. Lured by the sweetness, he dives in deeper, and then deeper still. Probing, caressing, tasting, but never retrieving, the tiny nugget of mango he knows is nestling there.
So many earthly ways to enjoy mangoes. Vishnu is loath to give them up.
The Death of Vishnu
Manil Suri 2001