The Company of Women by Khushwant Singh

(First published 2003)

It is a story of a millionaire Indian businessman, Mohan Kumar, who is trapped in a loveless marriage. He breathes the proverbial sigh of relief when his wife finally walks out on him with a divorce. Disillusioned, lonely and with a belief that the foundation of love is nothing but lust, he embarks upon a scheme of remarkable proportions.

He puts up advertisements in the national dailies for “paid love companions”, as temporary partners, to join him at his residence, for so long as it is fulfilling to either of them, in exchange for, among other things, handsome monetary benefits. Contrary to his expectations a surprisingly large number of women respond to his offer. And there begins a long narrative of raunchy sex scenes which reads quite like a cheap pornographic flick.

Khushwant calls this novel “fantasies of an octogenarian” for he finished writing it at the “youthful” age of 85, when, according to him, a man’s “sex instincts travel from his middle to his head”. An amusing cliché leave every recruited companion exclaiming hysterically, in bliss, of the massive phallus the protagonist commands, as soon as they set sight on it.

Reading between the lines the reader can vaguely discern a critique on the sexual ethics of Indian middle class and the taboos associated with it. The ending succinctly brings the point home. The free sex life of the protagonist ends in a lonely and bitter death as he catches Aids to which he finally succumbs.

My rating 2/5. The link from AMAZON.

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