Today is a first for the Virginity Project: a story from India. The distinctly un-Indian sounding ‘Bob’ will recount several life changing episodes from his younger years and in doing so, he will demonstrate something that I know now to be true. Virginity loss is really hard for men. Its not like I couldn’t have intellectually understood this before but diving into this project and meeting men ‘at the coal face’ has helped to me to see just how tender they are, how easily broken they can be by the seemingly inconsequential actions of the opposite sex.
What also fascinates me about this story is how one event can be experienced in two diametrically opposing ways by two different people, largely depending on how they feel about life and perhaps, more critically, about themselves. Bob gave me the following paragraph to add into his story and I couldn’t find a comfortable place to put it. Instead, it allows me to illustrate my point here.
‘First, Dotty was self-confessedly far from a virgin; it's not as though she was trying to protect her virginity; and, before telling me she didn't want sex, she rubbed herself to a couple of orgasms on my thigh. It's hardly surprising that that latter bit made me feel even more used’.
Some people – rightly or wrongly - might take Dotty’s pre intercourse climax as an endorsement of their raw animal attraction. For Bob, however, a man who at the age of 23, had had literally no physical or emotional experience of the opposite sex, this episode served only to back up what he already feels about himself: used.
Traditionally, we expect this emotion of women more than we do of men. And perhaps I am using Bob as an exceptional example but his story still speaks oceans about the interesting and often heartbreaking ways in which men can feel about their most intimate encounters. Time and again as I interviewed for this project and received your emails, I was touched and sometimes shocked at the intensity of emotion expressed by members of the opposite sex.
Before I go to the actual first time, I need to tell you a little story from my past. At the age of 23, I was not only still a virgin but had quite literally, never been kissed. Through my childhood and teens I was in an all-male educational institution run by Catholic priests (no, this is not a story of sexual molestation; there was none) and as an only child at home my exposure to the female sex of my own age (even within the family) was just about nonexistent. Apart from that, I was obese and unattractive (I have systematically destroyed every single photo I could find of that period of my life) and morbidly shy of the female sex.
After a series of failed suicide attempts in my late teens, I lost a lot of weight, became more like who I am now, physically speaking, but I was still the guy who had never been kissed, never held a girl’s hand, never attended a party, never been ‘one of the gang’ (who would ever have me?). And then, at the age of eighteen, I left home for Lucknow, 1600 kilometres away and culturally as far from my hometown as the dark side of the moon.
Now I should explain that I live in one of the most socially liberal parts of India; we are actually South East Asians here, not South Asians, being geographically closer to Thailand and Vietnam than to Delhi. Even though I was a stone virgin, I at least knew women were supposed to be my equals. I knew talking to them or shaking hands wasn’t a crime. Suddenly I was pitch-forked into a situation where girls and boys did not talk to each other unless they had a romantic interest in each other, where they never sat together in class, and where any friendly overture to the opposite sex was liable to be taken as being forward. Get my drift?
And so during my five years in Lucknow I grew to the conclusion that girls were, at least in their emotions, and at least in North India, a different species from boys or at least liked to pretend they were a different species. For instance, they seemed to be unaware of the fact that sex existed or that women were supposed to be equal participants in the act; they seemed to think shaking hands was a dirty act and that boys were an alien and enemy species, unless of course they pledged marriage.
Oh, I had my crushes; at twenty I lost my heart to a young woman called Seema whose idea of fun, once she got to know of my infatuation, was to lock lips with her boyfriend whenever I was around to see them do it. After that I drifted mentally, concentrating on the study part of life and putting thoughts of sex out of my mind (except for old friend masturbation).
Then, in my last year in Lucknow, I took an evening class. Among the other students were several girls of a completely different kind from those inhabiting my medical college. They were friendly, extroverted, and seemed to live life – if not to the full – at least at a higher level than the bottom dregs. Among them was a young woman whom I’ll call by the nickname I gave her afterwards – Dotty.
From the beginning I felt there was something different about Dotty. For the first time in my life I found a woman who didn’t seem to feel there was anything wrong in being in the same room with me, who didn’t mind ‘adult’ jokes, who didn’t shrink away at the very possibility of a handshake, and so on. In fact even I, who had absolutely no experience of sex or romance, began to notice that she seemed to go out of her way to talk to guys and at least on two or three occasions she took pains to be alone with me. On one of these occasions she literally blocked my way with her body, apparently unaware that she was doing it, and began telling funny stories with a slightly, um, how shall I put it, sex-tinted cast to them.
Then, one cold winter night, after the evening class was over, she invited me home with her for a couple of drinks. I leaped at the chance, not because of her so much but because it would be such a change from my cheerless and freezing hostel room. She did invite one other guy, but that was someone who could be relied on to turn the invite down, as he did. So it was just she and I, going to the house where she was living alone at the time, her parents being out of town.
There, we had rum and colas and shared packets of chips and talked and laughed and listened to music until I suddenly found it was getting on for 11pm and it was time I left. When I said I needed to do that, she said ‘Go if you want to.’ I said ‘I don’t want to but...’ Instead of answering she turned to me and kissed me (who had never even got a peck on the cheek in my life from a female my age) right on the mouth. You must understand that I was taken so completely by surprise that my sympathetic nervous system went into overdrive. I began shivering uncontrollably and helplessly apologising for the shivering. She calmed me down with some more kisses.
To make a long story short, we kept kissing and dancing and after that we took our clothes off and went to bed. And then what happened? When we had twined naked on, around and over each other, when we were as hot as we could get, what does she say? She tells me then, ‘I don’t want sex.’
To this day I still wonder why she led me on so far and then pulled the plug. I did respect her right to call a halt on the proceedings. It was her body and she had a right over what she did with it. But I still have not forgiven Dotty to this day; can you imagine what damage she did to my sexual self-confidence? I felt violated.
Some sexually aggressive women may make the moves on the guy, but in the final analysis even they would feel more ‘wanted’ if the man was the one who made the final moves. Maybe this is why Dotty pulled the plug; she wanted me to seduce her, not to be seduced by her. If so, she should have made that point more clearly. We men aren’t mind-readers; when women say ‘no’, we can either take it as no’ or take it to mean ‘yes’. In our own defence, and as a policy, it’s safer to take ‘no’ to mean ‘no’. Taking ‘no’ to mean ‘yes’ may make for real trouble when it means ‘no.’
I remained a virgin for two years more…until I was 25 years old.
Part Two: How I lost my virginity
Now while I was in medical college in Lucknow I had a friend named Simon, who had another friend by the name of Arun. Simon often visited him and I went along sometimes. Now this Arun had a girlfriend and she often had a friend visiting her at the same time. This friend was a Punjabi girl named Priya. She was from Lucknow but was supposed to be working in Delhi. We talked casually each time we met; nothing more.
Now, almost two years after the Dotty episode, I was out of medical college and had gone to Delhi for an interview for recruitment to the Army Dental Corps. At this time I had relatives in Delhi and was staying with them. After the interviews were over I had a day to kill before I was due to return, so in the early afternoon I went to the commercial area to buy books. I’d just come out of a bookshop when who should I meet but this Priya. She and I talked, of course. She said she was working for an airline as a secretary to some top executive, and that she had the day off. She lived in Delhi in an apartment she rented with two other girls, but they had both gone home so she was alone.
We went to a small restaurant and ate while we talked. She seemed happy enough to see a familiar face and so was I. Afterwards she said to me, ‘Why don’t you come along to my place? It’s not far.’ Since my only alternative was to spend the evening in the company of my aged aunt and uncle I accepted with some gratitude.
I still remember it was a warm autumn afternoon and the sun was shining through her window. Her living room was nice and cosy. She put on music and got us fruit juice and a small bottle of vodka. We sipped juice and vodka and talked. She was telling me about her job. She also said she’d broken up with a boyfriend about whom she had told me in Lucknow.
After some time she took off her shoes and suggested we dance. During the dance she wound her arms round my neck and pressed her body to mine whilst looking up into my face. It was only the most natural thing in the world to put my mouth to hers, and our lips opened and slid over each other, and our tongues twined.
There was no coyness about Priya. After we kissed, with my heart hammering and my blood charged with adrenaline, she put her hands under my T shirt, ran them up my body and asked me quite simply if I’d make love to her (though if I remember right her exact words were: ‘I really need a good fuck. Will you please fuck me now?’)
You may be sure that I didn’t refuse. We slipped off our clothes (I was still wondering if she would at the last moment pull a Dotty on me) right there in the warm living room, until we were both naked. I told her I was a virgin; she smiled and said it didn’t matter, and took me by the hand and led me to her bedroom. I still remember that I was glad the bedroom was so dark, because I was blushing furiously.
She was slim and small breasted. Also her pubic hair was very thick and untrimmed, so much so that I could barely see the cleft. But I still remember how her vagina felt to my finger as I slipped it inside, and how she gasped softly. I was doing things absolutely instinctively at that point; I’d never felt a vagina before, but I had read a sex manual and I’d read all about fingering. So I knew how to roll my finger and press against the front wall of her vagina, where my fingertip found a small raised patch. I’m not sure, but I think this was her G Spot, if such a thing exists. At any rate, when I pressed on it, she suddenly went stiff all over and arched her back for several seconds. I actually didn’t realise she’d had an orgasm until she lay back again, gasping.
Then she was pulling me on top of her, and I felt her fingers on my penis guiding it to her vagina. I was rigidly erect and I remember this sensation of her vagina suddenly enfolding my penis, as though drawing it in, and surrounding my penis with her warmth and moisture. I was just so amazed at the realisation that I wasn’t a virgin any longer that I think I just lay there on her for a minute or two. After that I began to move again in and out of her. A few moments later she began to grind and moan against me and reached up and pulled my mouth down to hers, and rubbed her feet up and down the backs of my legs. (It’s a measure of my inexperience that I didn’t realise until much later that she was having an orgasm at that moment).
After some time we were both were tired and panting and I rolled off her. She lay down on me and began playing with my ears, kissing my neck and so on, and after a while I got hard again. This time I think I was the one who began grinding myself against her and she helped me enter her again. This time I knew a bit more about what I was doing and I began to grind my hips against hers, not just pull and thrust, and after some time she had another orgasm, which I did realise because she cried out softly. I had no orgasm that time…I went on until my arms were tired and got off her. After that we got dressed and talked about getting together, but the next day I returned to my hometown and I never met her again. Those were the days before mobile phones and the ‘net and I have no doubt she found another guy soon enough. I wasn’t in love with her nor she with me, and I was more a way of satisfying her sex needs than anything else.
But she was kind to me and helped me, and after we had finished she told me that if I hadn’t told her that it was my first time she’d never have believed it. She said she’d had experienced guys who weren’t as good as I was. I don’t think it was true, but it was then that I recovered from Dotty.
You know my primary emotion after getting rid of my virginity? I walked back to my relatives’ place almost tasting the air, looking at the sky, and reminding myself that I could die happily now that I wasn’t a virgin anymore.