Ashok Rajamani



reader talk
"words, brewed and unbrewed."
flash fiction
"stories, thumb-sized."
"why on earth would a brown american boy want to be an all-american star?"
"Salman Rushdie uncovers the dream that imprisons."
"How a Drag King and the Carnival Stole the Show in the World's Greatest Poem."
Vanity Fair, 1991


Vinay knew the drill. Many Indian bathrooms didn't have bathtubs. This was due to the nation's historical disuse of non-stop spraying faucets. Of course, this had changed and modern faucets were aplenty. But that didn't stop the ceremony, which had developed into a tradition, a choreographed exploration into self-sensuality. This was called a “bucket bath,” a rather elaborate production not unlike the most sophisticated Broadway shows.

Hot and cold water from two main faucets affixed to the bathroom's wall were sprayed into a large bucket. Next to this was an empty bucket in which a small pitcher hid. Bars of soap or bottles of foamy liquid body wash or bottles of shampoo lay next to the buckets. The bather luxuriously scrubbed his body with the soap or body wash, mixed the foam with the water, then used the pitcher to pour the soothing water all over his body, hitting every nook and cranny. Rinse, lather and repeat. Same went for the shampoo, except the water was poured specifically over the head. The bather's shoulders, arms, thighs, backside, all got a delectable workout. Soapy suds on naked skin. It was do-it-yourself erotic water yoga.

As Vinay walked into his aunt's glamorous guest bathroom upstairs, he saw the oft-used Indian-style washing area. But this was the biggest one he had ever seen. Instead of a small flat space, this was a circle of recessed marble flooring akin to an ancient Turkish bath.

The requisite bucket and pitcher were there. The only difference? They were ludicrously large, metallic and intricately detailed.

It had been a while since Vinay directly examined his naked body. After removing all his clothes and shutting the curtain, he poured hot water from the faucet into the bucket. There was already a huge bar of Amla soap (the Indian version of Dove ) next to the bucket. He lathered himself up. Vinay was surprised that his body wasn't as bad as he fretted it would be. After scrubbing his smooth, dark body, he looked around. Every wall was mirrored, even the ceiling. He could watch himself touch himself all over in the water. Vinay smiled at this revelation. His nude body was reflected at him, from all angles possible. That's when he decided to have fun with the situation the best way he knew how.

He posed.

Other than his smoothness and sweatiness, Vinay was always conscious of his boobs. Yet, after he washed his hair, he stared at himself and thought his jugs looked hot. Sexy, even. Maybe it was the neighbor's uber-masculinity that brought out his feminine side. Whatever the reason, he felt comfortable with his bustiness. At least for that moment.

So as he postured wet and unclothed, looking at his breasts and sizable gut, he did the ultimate pose that best captured those attributes: Demi Moore, pregnant and glowing and nude and holding her tits, on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. It was an iconic magazine cover, and he was an iconic, wet, just-cleaned Vinay. He did the pose for a few minutes, rotating his stance so he could face all the mirrors while clutching his bosom.

After cleaning himself with suds and more suds, he luxuriated in his own reflection, feeling good about himself for the first time in a long time.