The authority on dominant subcontinent women and the weak and often unwilling European males they enslave, Kurt Steiner, brings us the tale of sexual and domestic servitude of one English self-publisher to the recently widowed Indian businesswoman who is also his neighbour.
The war of wills that follows when she gets him to invite her into his plush Isle of Dogs apartment is lost from the start and it is not long before he can refuse her imperious nature anything.
Even if his caving in to her will ensures his complete and utter emasculation.
The four women seated around the dining-table, attention shared between the stunning views across the Thames from the penthouse apartment and the equally as satisfying meal they had just finished, each had common ground between them.
All four were either divorced or widowed and they all ran relatively successful businesses throughout the London area.
They were also, with ages starting in the thirties and ending in the early forties, naturalized British citizens from the Indian subcontinent; brought together by being that rarity in the local business world: an Indian female who employed both those of her own race and those of her adopted country also – with all the indigenous resentment that came with the phenomenon.
Hardly surprising then that they would have found common ground with each other after having met at their nearest Temple. And especially when they found their attendance, in each case, was based mainly upon ritual and family conditioning, rather than any devout beliefs of their own. All four having shared less than comfortable upbringings in the more deprived areas of their homeland before marriage had changed both their geography and personal situations. Each of them having arrived in the country by dint of an arrange marriage to older, unattractive and quite desperate, Indian men they had either used the law to remove from their lives or been delighted to have nature perform the service for them.
Although each of the of the four had eschewed the costumes of their homeland for a more… European… look, it must be said that none of them were what might be described as “eye-candy”. Despite a relatively youthful age-range, an uninvolved observer asked to guess their professions could have been forgiven for plumping for that of Indian schoolteachers. And; given their prematurely matronly, if not unshapely, bodies; schoolteachers from a more strict and authoritarian past at that.
For three of them, it was a first visit to the apartment of their hostess, Nadwa Johar, and each of them were suitably impressed as they ate, drank, and conversed in their native tongue, free of the heavy accents that still accompanied their speaking of the English of which each had an excellent command.
“I must compliment you once again on your apartment, Nadwa,” gushed the youngest of the four friends, Aami Choudhary, the owner now of a small chain of tobacconists after taking advantage of the more equitable British laws on divorce and shedding an older husband who had served his purpose. “The views are simply stunning and it is so much quieter than my own apartment in Deptford.”
“And so very tasteful,” added the widower Kala Malhotra, the oldest but least well-off of the four with a local cleaning company she, like Aami, had stripped from her former husband. “The lighting and the pastel colours are so… relaxing.”
Nadwa Johar basked in the praise and felt again that sense of disbelief that she could have come so far from such humble beginnings.
“You forget the most outstanding aspect of her hospitality,” the third of the women reminded her friends; a woman by the name of Warhi Bhandari who shared the same age with her hostess but was by far the most… curvy… of the women around the table.
“I do not think we will have much difficulty guessing what that might be,” smirked Aami, gesturing to the empty dessert dishes littering the table.”
There was laughter at this, as Warhi’s helmsman-ship of her late-husband’s catering company, thriving on the service of all kinds of Indian functions from Diwali to marriages; along with her eclectic love of food; made guesswork unnecessary.
“That food was simply divine, Nadwa. I must congratulate the cook you hired if he is still here, and offer him a position… If he can cook in the Indian way that is, and not this bastardised mess the English claim to be ours and love so much.”
There were expressions of distaste all around for what had become the UK’s favourite cuisine – but not, if the wistful looks that followed upon the faces of the three guests, for the handsome English chef himself.
“He is still here,” Nadwa confirmed, “and will be in shortly to clear away the rest of the dishes before washing and putting them away. “You may give him your compliment then. I am sure he will be thrilled to hear it – though I doubt you will have any luck in having him accept your job offer.”
Warhi nodded, regretfully, “Then I assume he works for himself. A sensible move. A handsome man who can cook so well is sure to be much in demand to cater events of any kind.”
“A handsome English face nature intended to spend much time between a superior Indian woman’s legs,” said Aami, a sudden lust transforming her somewhat plain and serious features; for, like her friends, her stay in the country had given her no cause to like English men – even if the country itself, again like her friends, was to her liking.
“Aami!” giggled Warhi along Kala. “You are impossible.”
Aami shrugged, “Perhaps. But I am also truthful. Even as you and Kala titter, I can tell you are both picturing his head between your legs as his tongue takes your hungry little cunts to paradise.”
The two slightly older women looked uncomfortable and Nadwa could not help laughing.
“Stop tormenting Warhi and Kala now, Aami,” she chastised, about to add something of her own when the man himself entered and his footsteps became made audible upon the highly polished wooden flooring.
“Ah, Daniel!” Nadwa Johar exclaimed, voice taking on an unmistakable an authoritative tone towards the handsome, and older by a decade and more, Englishman, his immaculate white linen tunic above form-fitting black trousers delivering a mixture of cook and waiter, while leaving the diners in no doubt he was there to serve them.
The irony of their respective positions, together with the reversal of their two countries history with each other, as obvious to the three guests as it was to their hostess, each of whom had a keen enjoyment of their homeland’s past and found it simply… delicious… to be waited upon by such a man from such a country.
“My guests were just singing the praises of your culinary efforts,” Nadwa continued as the ladies themselves focused their attention on the man she had addressed as ‘Daniel’”
The older man, all attention on him, reddened at the cheeks and seemed flustered and uncomfortable. Up until now he had simply been thanked for his delivery of each course and had not been addressed in a way requiring a response. Now he seemed at a loss as to how to respond.
“Do you not think they should be thanked for their compliments, Daniel?” the hostess asked, prompting her guests to ask themselves if that was a rather obvious measure of… chastisement… they heard in her tone towards the older man.
“Y-Yes. Of course,” the obviously uncomfortable man spluttered, acting for all the world as if her were a lowly Subaltern being taken to task by an all-powerful General. “My thanks for the compliments, ladies, and I’m pleased you enjoyed your meal.”
There was no response from the three guests, each of them sensing an undercurrent between their hostess and her cook/waiter, this as the man Nadwa Johar had addressed as Daniel averted his eyes and began to clear the table of dessert, prior to fetching coffee.
“My good friend Ms Bhandari here, is most impressed with your work, Daniel,” Nadwa pressed, sensing his discomfort and enjoying it almost as much as she exerted wielding her power over him in front of her obviously admiring friends. “In fact, she is so impressed she was thinking of offering you a position with her catering company.”
“I… I…” he spluttered, looking up from his collection of the dessert plates with what the three women each described to themselves as a fearful expression.
“Now, now, Daniel,” chided their hostess. “There is no need to be tongue-tied around my guests. Your work this evening has been excellent and Ms Bhandari is even thinking of offering you a position in her employ, so impressed has she been with your cooking and the respectful service you have provided. Is that not correct, Warhi?”
“Well… Yes, it is, Nadwa,” responded the plump but curvaceous forty-something from the Uttar Pradesh; a little put out to be placed on the spot in such a way, despite her intentions on the man’s behalf having been genuine.
“If, that is,” she continued, “Daniel here is looking for a position of the kind?”
There were a few seconds of silence as four pairs of female eyes trained themselves on the Englishman waiting table for them and awaited his response.
If anything, the cheeks that had already been pink with embarrassment were beginning to sizzle at being the sole focus of the guests’ attention.
Not to mention that of their hostess.
“Really, Daniel,” Nadwa Johar chided. “Anyone would think you are unused to conversing with women.”
“And such a handsome man too,” Aami added her thoughts, sensing Nadwa was tormenting the man and finding the prospect enchanting. “I hardly think the attention of women is something he is unused to – and certainly women far more beautiful than we four.”
“You are embarrassing the poor man,” said Kala, though it was obvious to each of the women at table that she too was enjoying the spectacle of watching the handsome Englishman being embarrassed by four ladies from a country once considered a personal fiefdom of his own. “Allow him to clear the dishes and return to his work.”
Needing no second bidding, that was exactly what the man prepared to do.
Until Nadwa Johar stopped him.
“No, Kala. I am afraid that will not do. Daniel here is in my service and there are proprieties to be observed. One of my guests has not only complimented his work but even gone so far as to offer him a position with her company. I think the least he can do is respond to her offer and show his gratitude.”
If it hadn’t been obvious to the three women before that there was a rather… odd… dynamic between their hostess and the handsome cook-cum-waiter, the realisation had taken root with their friend’s “Daniel here is in my service”.
And, if the looks upon their unprepossessing faces spoke truly, the dynamic they suspected was one they each found… thrilling.
“Well, Daniel?” Nadwa Johar demanded, drawing herself up in her chair, chunky but voluptuous body as rigid as the stern and avian features above them.
The man looked near to tears, hands shaking as he attempted not to let the cutlery grasped in them escape and fall to the floor.
“Do you wish to leave my service and take up Ms Bhandari’s offer?”
There it was again.
The three guests were as amazed as they were thrilled.
Each of them asking pretty much the same question:
What was going on between their friend that this older, handsome and – if his performance this evening had been any guide – capable, Englishman, would allow himself to be embarrassed in such a way before others?
So obvious to them was it that the man would almost prefer to be sucked from the room and be deposited in the waiting Thames below than stand before them so… abjectly.
A handsome and capable older man seemingly in awe of the fellow countrywoman and business-owner they called a friend.
“I…” he began, in a pitiful approximation of a manly voice that required him to cough into his hand twice before it took on greater volume. “I am grateful for your offer Ms Bhandari,” he told Warhi under the watchful and excited eyes of her fellow guests. “But… But…”
His eyes seemed to beseech Nadwa Johar to spare him what he must say next, but her own eyes simply held his unblinkingly above a stern visage.
“But…” he began again finally. “But, I am very happy to remain in the service of my Malkin.”
As the Urdu word that was the equivalent of the English “Mistress” impacted upon the consciousness of the three Indian ladies, and instantly translated itself into a kind of liquid electricity at the apex of their seated thighs, they were not to know just how shaming the man before them found his own words.
“Do not be too dispirited, Warhi,” Nadwa told her stunned and highly aroused guest. “Just because he cannot serve you full-time it does not mean his Malkin cannot spare him from time to time to lend you his… help.”
As his would-be employer nodded her head, still too stunned to form words, she could not know that Daniel Saunder’s thoughts had already raced back to that time, not three months before, when he and their hostess had been nothing more complex or humiliating than neighbours.
A time when she had simply been known to him as “Nadwa”.