It was a rainy evening in Delhi – the drizzle increased the slight chill of the early October air. My mind, after the daylong torture of multiple meetings, difficult conversations, and reading and writing documents, started wandering.

I felt thirsty for a drink, and began to crave for the bold but deft touch of a masseur’s hands; his strong body glistening with oil, the tight embrace of his arms . . . this would be perfect today!

Instinctively I rushed towards the wine shop at the corner of the road, picked up my poison and hopped onto an auto rickshaw. The 45-minute journey seemed much shorter with a peg gulped down during the ride.

Forty-five minutes and a short walk later, I was at the reception counter of a massage parlour tucked away in a small lane inside a colony area. After a bit of haggling over the rates of massage with and without sauna facilities, I paid the charges and went inside. The guy managing the masseurs greeted me and asked me to change quickly as it was already 9 pm. I asked for someone skilled and he suggested Amar.

The guy pointed out to a sweet looking, young, fair, tall, lanky and topless guy standing near the door of a hallway. I quickly put my stuff in the small locker, undressed and wrapped around a towel, downed a couple more pegs and went to the toilet to freshen up. When I came out, Amar accompanied me to a cabin. Before starting the massage, he requested for a couple of pegs and I brought the bottle from the locker.

I soon drifted into an ecstatic, sleepy state of mind – thanks to the strong and delicious strokes of Amar’s hands. But I still managed to chat with him a bit and afterwards remembered at least part of the conversation. He was 22 and from Patna. Around a year ago, he met a fashion designer popularly known as AJ at an event in Patna. AJ convinced Amar that he had a lot of potential to become a great model and that he would help him.

Well, AJ did help himself to quite a bit of Amar’s charm and stamina. But when Amar, with his dreams soaring sky high arrived on a train to Delhi, AJ didn’t receive his calls throughout the day. The realization dawned on Amar that he had no place to go to. With the little money he had, he checked into a cheap hotel in the Pahargunj area.

For two days AJ did not take Amar’s frantic calls. Finally, when Amar texted him that he had no money left to even return to Patna, AJ texted back with just the mention of a massage parlour where he could find some work. Eventually, Amar landed up at the parlour and ever since had been working there. The parlour proved quite an oasis for him – they gave him work and also allowed him to stay there in the night. After 15 days he found his own accommodation and moved out. The parlour helped him increase his clientele which lead to some financial stability.

Amar rather casually said he was straight and only into women, but he served his male clients to earn a living. And despite AJ’s cruel letdown, he seemed to be in control of his personal situation. But in the intimate moments spent with him, from his behaviour and expectations, I sensed a certain physical aggression which hinted at something darker. Pleasure mixed with bitterness? Or was it vengefulness?

After our session was over, I showered and changed. Amar was at the hallway door – I signalled to him and gave him a tip. He wanted more, so I gave a bit more, but it seemed he wanted even more. Before leaving, I turned back and saw him looking at me and smiling cockily. Was it just the arrogance of youth?

All names changed in this article for reasons of confidentiality – Editor.

Doodle and main artwork credits: Aakash and Pawan Dhall, respectively.