The womb is the most abused part of a woman’s body, especially when a lady has been coaxed into a compromising position by the Minister for Shelters. The Royal Ragamuffins, all four of them as a matter of disputable fact, have slept, played, swum, floated and turned cartwheels in the cushion of the life-supporting amniotic fluid for nine months, each in a different woman’s womb. In his youth, the Minister for Shelters preferred to coax a different woman, almost always of foreign origin, into a compromising position, on each of those lonely nights when he had no land deals to settle.

On each of those lonely nights the Minister for Shelters is said to have plunged in naked desire, and planted a wild seed in a foreign womb. The Minister’s wild seeds are now full-grown men with common ancestors from their paternal side – they call themselves the Royal Ragamuffins of the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai.

Every man and woman living on the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai has ancestors. The Lady with the Slender Hands and Perumal Arokyaswami have ancestors from the same country, which by the way, is not the Indian soil. But the two, the Lady and the rickshaw-puller, are neither related by blood nor marriage.

Given their foreign identities, Perumal Arokyaswami does not believe the Lady with the Slender Hands can remain secure on the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai without a legally sanctioned marriage to endorse their union.

The Lady has had past experiences that do not permit her to believe marriage can bring her back the same respect she had grown accustomed to before her womb had become home to a foetus. Perumal Arokyaswami persists, the Lady does not wish to be pushed out of her choice. At least not right now, when nothing must come between the Lady’s wish and the irresistible kiss. Perumal Arokyaswami drags the unlit end of his masculine Vignesh Beedi, and proceeds to kiss the Lady with the Slender Hands…his gleaming cycle rickshaw their rexine bed of passion under the shimmering afternoon sky.

This afternoon is like any other upon the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai, the sun shines on its inhabitants as they go about their businesses. The business people of the Footpath sell lost electronic gadgets found in parks and other public areas, including the Main Vegetable Market, the Supreme Fish Market and the Market for Native Factory Spun Cotton Garments well within the radius of Cottonpettai.

This afternoon is not like any other upon the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai – the Lady and her paramour Perumal Arokyaswami are performing an act that is acceptable only when day disappears into night.

The moneyed people of Main Town Lancashire continue to shop for found electronic gadgets in full view of the slanderous act, which by unrecorded Indian law, is permitted only by night.

The Lady with the Slender Hands is a woman of instant emotion – she will keep her passion alive until the moneyed people stop gaping at her private act of intimacy.

Intimacy is a secular act as the Lady makes her independence known in public.

The public has passed dissatisfactory statements regarding the Lady’s independence.

The public has failed to notice that the Lady with the Slender Hands is not alone in her independence.

It takes two to negotiate a well-versed kiss in a cycle rickshaw, unmindful of prying public on the Widest Footpath of Cottonpettai.

It takes two to feel the imbalance of hormones triggered by touch. This imbalance has been enthused by an emotion between my man and I, while we slept, and dreamt freely between earth and sky. Si, mi hombre, yes, my man and I lay down to dream, and touch each other to trigger passion. This passion between mi hombre and I was triggered while we dreamt our own dreams, and reached out to each other in the dark of the night under the star-studded sparkle of the naked cielo … I open mi ojos tonight to stare into the naked sky, mi hombre is nowhere in sight. I close mi eyes once more to witness mi hombre and the cielo, all drifting in the sleeping Rio Beas – no end to this dream is in sight.

Excerpted with permission from Taboo, Nirmala Govindarajan, Picador India.