A FORBIDDEN NOVEL IN LAHORE
LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER
Boys are often loud. Shouting more of the time. Speaking in a low voice was for wimps. But when boys whisper it is all about some forbidden thing. And what was more forbidden then talk of sex and sexy things. At that time people read books. People heard about books. We had heard about Guy de Maupassant and felt thrilled when his heroine said that a kiss from a man without moustache was no kiss at all. That is why school boys look at their upcoming facial hair and some were trying to cultivate moustaches of their own.
The talk was in the air. A novel was worth reading. It was the banned novel of D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s lover. Lawrence had broken all codes by ridiculing English aristocracy with the idea of a crippled Lord, and his wife, being seduced by the gardener in their estate. It looked all ridiculous but in all ways forbidden. People often had just heard of the book, hardly anyone had seen it. But one thing was certain. The male and female genitals were referred as John and Lady Jane in it. It was thrilling for the boys as they prided over lusty talk and their own growing man hoods. The hero was one who could say that he had actually read the book. Hardly anyone had even seen it.
A long time later, some people handed over me some books by D.H. Lawrence. To me it meant nothing, but an English writer taking his swap on the aristocracy. And certainly there was a shame in it. It was not lusty, it was actually very embarrassing. But even more embarrassing was a short story of D.H. Lawrence in which he talks of a wounded Jesus Christ, looking at the ribald activity of a farm cock with the hens. It ridiculed the very faith, by talking of the impotence of the revered figure, and the figure’s embarrassment at seeing the potency of the relation between birds. One could just say, how people do it? Well that is what is called the rebel in the writer. Taking on all odds, trying to justify his own rationality by baring hidden truths about others.
There was a shop in the Regal cinema lane, Spaceage, who used to pander to the requirements of the boys from St Anthony High School, nearby. And there was a shop in the Regal Cinema itself, which used to be home of supply of pornography. They were rather illiterate people. They sullied the character of many of the boys. Those are the pains of growing up, and for each generation, the pains are always there.
The funny art is that every generation suffers the same. There was a shop in Kashmeeri Bazaar around 1890s, and it supplied young boys with nudes of that time. Ribald writing was there too. But these post cards of classical nude photos of women made in Paris mostly were a hot item in Lahore. And there used to be actual nude photographs too. The hottest were of Algerian women made by French photographers. And there were colour lithos too. I have seen many of them in international auction houses, selling them at premier prices. But here old men mostly put them on fire, near their dying days. I have myself hear confessions of a few of them.
The craziest idea were even more. The teachers at the Mayo School of Arts also indulged in nude photography for rich clients. The clients used to select their favourite prostitutes from Hira Mandi and got them photographed from Mayo School teachers. But that is another story for another day.