Looking into the dynamics of The Company of Women we find that this novel is the first Indian novel which deals with sexuality and its consequences. This novel has been written by Khushwant Singh. It got published in 1999. The protagonist of the novel is driven by his glands. It is one of the reasons that he is not happy with his wife. He wants to sleep with many women and as a result he is not satisfied by his wife. In the climax we find the protagonist Mohan Kumar dies with AIDS. In the present paper we are going to study the female characters who reflect feminism in several ways. In the very beginning there is a character whose name is Dhanno. She is the maid servant of Mohan Kumar who is also the hero of this novel. She is a married woman but her husband is a drunkard. It is one of the reasons that she feels unsatisfied in her life. She thinks that god has gifted her one life and she cannot waste it to a drunkard husband. She comes closer to her master Mohan and remarks-
“Not like this, Sahib…I have never seen anything so big”1
The above lines clearly reveal that she was a lady of desires and Mohan Kumar was a perfect match for her. Mohan was not a man of limited happiness. It can be one of the reasons that he was always ready to search another partner in his life. After Dhanno he felt attracted towards another woman whose name was Sarojini. In the second part of the novel we can find characters like Jessica Brown and Yashmeen. These characters are open minded and they do not consider sexuality as social taboo.
It is interesting to see that Professor Sarojini comes to him to spend her quality hours with him. She also becomes intimate with him but he is loyal to no body. She is separated from her husband and she also has a child who studies in a boarding school. The following lines can reveal the boldness of her individuality-
“He sat down in his chair legs apart exposing himself to her. She undid her dressing gown and came over and sat astride him. She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned back, so they could both see and marvel at how a small opening could swallow up his huge organ. All of it, down to its hairy roots.”2
The above lines clearly show that new Indian women are sexually liberated. They do not hesitate to express their libido desires. They hardly care for their family and society. It is a matter of discussion among different critics and scholars. In the second part of the novel we can find memories of Mohan Kumar when he went to USA for higher studies. It has been disclosed now that he was a great womanizer. As a result he came closer to women of different culture and race. He has nothing to do with tradition and culture. He cares only for his carnal pleasures. Jessica is another woman who comes closer to him. She is black and beautiful. She is an American as well as an open minded lady. She engages herself in flirt and loose talks with Mr. Kumar. it is interesting to note that Mr. Kumar lost his virginity to this lady. Her personality is so charismatic that Mohan Kumar could not resist himself. It will become evident from the following lines taken from the novel-
“She took me to her bed, pulled me above her and directed my thing into her. I felt giddy and breathless with sheer joy as she took me in. She gasped with pleasure as I went right inside her. I couldn’t control myself. This was my first time and I spent myself, moaning helplessly, almost as I entered her. I had never imagined sex could be so thrilling.”3
Jessica was the starting there were a lot others to follow. After her, Kumar befriended Yasmeen, who was from Pakistan. She was her classmate. They both studied in the Department of Religion and Philosophy. The novelist Khushwant Singh tries to establish the notion that friendship is not limited up to the geographical boundaries. The horizons of friendship are unlimited. Yasmeen dominates over Kumar and starts the erotic relationship with him. It will become evident from the following lines of the novel-
“She pulled off my trousers and fondled my limp lingam till it was ready for action. She sat astride my middle, spread her ample frame over me and directed my phallus into her. She was wet and eager and my penis slid in easily. Her breasts smothered my face. She held each in turn and put its nipple in my mouth. urging me to snek it. She kissed me hungrily and noisily on my nose, lips and neck, leaving her saliva on me, while she heaved and thumped me with her huge buttocks. ‘I haven’t had sex for six months. I am famished,’ she said as her movement became more frenzied.”4
Yasmeen belongs to the culture where sex is not a subject of celebration. In other words it can be said that to her it was restricted. It can be one of the reasons that when given a chance she enjoyed the fullest. After this the time has come for Mohan to return to his homeland India. His studies were over and now his father was planning to get him married to a girl of his acquaintance. Unluckily the marriage of Mohan could not work and he was divorced soon. Then entered another lady in his life, whose, name is Molly Gomes. She is by profession a nurse from Goa. She is the incarnation of goddess of sexuality for Mohan Kumar. She knows exact moves to moan any man. It is evident from the following lines from the novel-
“ She nibbled the lobes of my ears, pressed her thumbs into the back of my shoulders, ran her fingers over my belly, middle thighs and shins, down to my feet She rubbed my toes and insteps. No part of my body did she leave untouched. it was relaxing soothing. “if you go on like this, I’ll fall asleep,” I murmured. She came up over me, kissed me passionately and said, “Darling, you go to sleep, I’ll do all the love-making.”5
The above lines reveal that Molly Gomes is a sexually proactive lady who is full of life and motion. The third and the final part of the novel is entitled ‘The Last Days of Mohan Kumar’. In this part Mohan Kumar dies from AIDS which he acquires from a prostitute. Mohan goes to Bombay on a business trip. He stays near gateway of India in a hotel named Taj Mahal Hotel. He asks the waiter to provide a woman and within no time a thirty year prostitute comes to him. She takes the advance payment from Mr. Kumar and undresses herself in his room. Mohan was delighted to see this lady and he penetrated her twice without using any safety.
- Singh, Khushwant, “The Company of Women”, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2000, p.25
- Ibid, p.65
- Ibid, p.104
- Ibid, p.123