My porn collection

My porn collection

Even if I started using computers around age nine at school, we got a computer at home when I was 15. I had heard about online porn from my schoolmates since I was thirteen. Some would go to a cyber cafe to browse porn. But I never dared to watch any. I only heard stories while all of us played tag in the lunch break.

I call my father ‘Baba’. So the name of the most popular site was just weird to me. I had no idea why a porn site would be called Desi Baba dot com. (Don't, it doesn’t exist anymore.)

I clearly remember the first time I saw porn. We end up remembering ‘first times’ so well. In 9th grade, Rahul and his best friend Sunil took me to the fourth floor at school—which was still under construction, so no one came there—and Rahul pulled out a magazine tucked under his shirt. This magazine featured pictures of naked women posing provocatively, wearing nothing but boots in a prominent backlight characteristic of the eighties. I marvelled at what I saw, as Sunil and Rahul flipped the pages looking at my face, taking great pleasure in corrupting a teacher’s son (my mother taught in the same school). I was thirteen.

With the computer, came dial-up connection and the ability to connect to internet at home. I remember thinking, ‘Should I go online to check out what this desi baba is all about?’. But I was scared. I was fairly innocent for a fifteen year old and I didn’t want to lie to my parents. So I didn’t do things I didn’t feel comfortable telling them. This idea sounds highly honourable and even felt so back then, but I have come to largely view it as perverse—the idea of being so attached to the family, where we practically share a common conscience and morality that extends far beyond teenage years and far into your personhood.

Eventually, I did end up 'lying', because the hormones in my body were having their own sankranthi. So I peeped online to view images, like the ones Rahul had shown me. Online video had not really taken off, as internet speeds were still being measured in Kbps.

But Google was taking off and Internet Explorer (IE) was at its peak. On one occasion my sister wanted to look something up while I was playing on the computer. She dropped by and typed the letter ‘S’ and IE's auto-complete added the remaining ‘exy pamela anderson’. I looked at the screen in horror and quickly glanced at my sister, who sharply exhaled while peering straight into my soul and went back to typing whatever she had to. This is how I learnt about ‘clearing browser history’ and my journey of getting good at using computers began.

However, just because the speeds were terrible, didn’t mean I didn’t watch video. Before pen drives went mainstream, there was a brief period of ‘re-writeable CDs’. This period coincided with my puberty. So I bought a re-writeable CD to exchange notes and homework with friends… and also porn videos. I was happy to be making some sort of a friendship with my new peers, while also learning what naked adults do together.

All memories from this period pale in comparison to the one prominent incident.

I had earned the reputation of being fairly well-versed in handling computers. Honestly, I was just doing the basics well—install software, clean up shit from a windows machine. But since personal computers had started to reach every middle-class Indian household in early 2000s, there were lots of first-time users and even my ilk were seen as 'whizz-kids'.

One day, a relative—a man in his mid thirties—asked me to come fix something on his computer. I vaguely remember it had to do with installing some software.

The software that was to be installed (the set-up file) was on my re-writable CD along with, as you know by now, my porn collection of women from all over the world. I had a moment of consideration—“What if my relative sees my porn collection when I open the CD on his computer?”. But my 15-year-old brain decided, “This old man doesn’t know shit about computers anyway”. So I didn’t take the trouble of making another CD. (Besides, the computer at home was shared with family, so I had no separate space to store my data.)

Upon reaching my relative’s house, he told me his computer was in the room. I ambled into his room. Sat at the desk. There was no one. Everything went exactly as I had expected. Just as I turned the computer on and got ready to insert the CD, my relative came and sat beside me, looking at the screen while asking me, “All good? Everything going OK?”

I played cool—‘Yeah yeah. All good’. But I thought, ‘Oops.. this is a situation. It’s ok. I just have to somehow ensure those folders aren’t visible.’

As soon as the CD was read, I immediately copied everything and pasted it in a new folder onto his desktop and closed any open windows. I thought when he leaves again, I will just pick the set-up file and delete the porn. All OK till now.

But then the copying dialog box appeared—‘7 minutes remaining’—and it listed every file that was being copied, right under the attention-seeking animation of files flying between two folders. My relative wasn’t budging. We sat there staring at the monitor.

‘Latina, Hispanic, Japanese, anime,’ the screen mentioned everything in great detail.

I stayed frozen in my chair, hoping my eclectic taste in women wouldn’t be noticed by the oldie. But he was not as dumb as I had hoped he would be. He suddenly turned to me and asked in a strict tone—“Kai re, he sagLa.. ah?!” (what the hell is all this huh?!)

Out of nowhere I replied, “Yeah exactly what I was thinking! I have no idea what my friend put in this. I had just given him the disc to give me softwares. I don’t know what this is. Weird!”

And there was awkward silence.

Unable to handle the awkwardness, I spoke up and fumbled as I tried to be earnest, “I… I’m sorry I put all this in here.. I will delete everything. I... I didn’t know”. And he replied strictly, “Don’t bother. let it be.”

I was flummoxed. Why does he want it to be there?!

After finishing the job, I asked him one last time, “Let me clean all that up for you. Really sorry.” He said, “No no. Drop it. It’s OK.”

I left his place totally confused—why does he want me to leave porn on his computer? He is a married man with a wife. Probably he will delete it later himself. But why wouldn’t he let me delete the damn thing?

I thought about it all through my teenage years whenever I saw him.

It remains an unsolved mystery to this day.