That won’t work on any chudail

The man tumbled, wheeled around and straightened, still shivering like a leaf in a storm, his eyes double the size of his shrunken balls as he ogled her knees.

‘You stupid man!’ Jaanu rasped. ‘Leave, you’re in danger here!’

‘Please don’t eat me,’ he yowled, crossing his arms to protect his groin.

Jaanu groaned.

‘I’m vegan,’ she said, matter-of-fact.

He didn’t seem to hear her as he fished desperately in his bag, his eyes glued on her. He pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, opening it and squinting to read from it. ‘Manshun jabaar chudail naale…’

‘That wouldn’t work on any chudail,’ Jaanu sighed.

‘…baa araa…’ He stopped, frowning, looking rapidly from the paper to her and back. ‘But…but I paid fifty thousand rupees for this junglee chudail totka!’

‘Heard of internet scams before?’ she said, toenadering towards him. ‘And now you need to leave!’

‘P-p-lease don’t hurt me! I’m innocent. All I wanted to do is…to see your feet. I’ve never seen real chudail feet. Please. Once.’

‘My feet?’

‘I know it’s not normal, but…’

Normal. The word hammered at her heart. So, she was not so very different from this silly little creature. Both of them wanted things that weren’t ‘normal’ for them. She glided up to him, crouched by his side, as he shrank back, terror in his eyes.

‘Will you leave if I show you my feet?’ she whispered.

He gulped and nodded, a nervous smile now wavering on his lips.

She pulled her white sari upto her knees. Her large black bark-like feet glistened in the dark night, pointing backwards, the nails on her knobbly toes overgrown with fungus. The man’s Adam’s apple bobbled as he inched his hand towards her foot.

‘What the hell are you doing?’ she snapped.

‘Can I…’ He gulped and wiped his fingers on his thinning hair, ‘please let me…touch…massage your feet.’

What?’ Jaanu hollered furiously, pulling her feet away and standing up.

‘You called me so you could massage my feet? Are you crazy? It’s the night of Grandma’s kitty party. Be thankful I was the one who answered your call and not one of the oth…’

‘Our little black moon!’

Jaanu whipped around. Shit. Her cousins, the twins Muffin and Sweety loped into the glade, claws on sexy waists, dressed in white saris like hers, their long black hair curling like snakes around their shapely bodies, faces wan with dramatically kohled eyes and red lips.

Excerpted from Grandma Garam’s Kitty Party, published in Magical Women, a feminist fantasy anthology by Hachette India. Buy here.