It was beyond her to comprehend  the unconventional way in which I thought about balancing  relationships and personal freedom.  That it was something I had begun to struggle with when as young as nineteen and when I still lived with my family in Bombay. The pages of my journal from those days are filled with me agonizing over and questioning the norms of male-female relationships.  But the answer for her always was my Playboy years. I often wished, if only she could read Gujrati!

●●●

Coming back to Jennifer. In aftermath of the Carole King concert, our relationship/non-relationship trudged along. I have practically written her off but still carry bit of a pang in my heart. I have just returned from a trip to South Africa. And when my phone rings on that long labor day weekend and when I hear her voice, my heart jumps.

‘Hi, Haresh’  it is Jennifer’s old cheery voice.  ‘you know, yesterday, when Clive woke from his nap, the first thing he said was ‘let’s go to Hanesh’s house.  Isn’t that something?’ Hanesh is as close as little Clive came to pronouncing my name.

‘You should have brought him by’

‘Really!’

And its back to as if nothing had happened between us. The months haven’t passed. As if we just parted the night before. But there is a pause:

‘You know, I called.’ She says. Her voice is a hushed whisper. Sort of a mild apology.

‘I know, Mary (Nastos} dropped off my stuff from the office.’

‘I feel bad about the way things ended between us two.’

‘Ya?’ is how I respond, but in smoother tone. ‘May be we can talk about it some other time?’

‘Yes.’ And her cheery voice returns.

‘What are you doing today?’

‘Oh, I have this South African Playmate (Nikki Peterson – January 1994, SA PB) in town and I would have to feed her, so we may go out for dinner. How about you?’

‘I am not doing anything.  I was going to call my friend Carrie, who works with me.  Was also thinking maybe you can come over and I can grill some chicken.’

‘I would love to, if you don’t mind me bringing along the Playmate.’

‘It depends on how threatened I will feel.’

Is she serious? Feeling threatened of a nineteen year old model trying to make it in the world?’

© Haresh Shah 2013

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

*The “naughty doodles” on the wall adapted from the images burned in the copper plates by Janette Newton.  

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Next Friday, July 19, 2013

FACE TO FACE WITH HUGH M. HEFNER

I can’t claim to have known the man closely or even casually. But yes, I have had a couple of face to face encounters with the capo dei capi. Quite pleasant actually. And long enough to form a certain impressions of my own about the man with the initials HMH.   

 

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