Rin Tin Tin. Lhasa, Peking, Bali, the Taj, the wonders of empire. Something of Edward Said floats through his head… some thought on structuralism, but fuck it’s his right, his duty, his nature…
On his back the elegant trim of the ceiling surprises him. The Delhi air is thick, the air cooler has run out of water and it circulates hot air, dry, and heavy over their bodies. Her weight, naked and pressed against him, her arm extended over him; he rubs her hips and feels the fossils of light stretch marks… he wonders when she was chubbier… he feels her shift, like a match over sandpaper, only the hair on his chest makes them not stick uncomfortably.
A shift back.
For the last week he had been in Bangkok on business and made to stand blankly and assist the boss in selling cheap fabrics as pure silk to Japanese clearing houses, or made to push barely polished stones as gems and crafted elephants as free trade and co-op approved to visiting women from Sweden. During fairs he wore his shirts pressed clean and tucked in - a first for months.
Now it was his clothes that lay discarded. He had slipped his socks off slightly, falling from his feet like snowflakes, discreetly to the ground without a sound when he kneeled in like a monk and kissed the inside of her thighs and had removed his pants when she was deeply focused on the twirls of her bulb.
He had shined at the fair selling, he could spot the buyers demands, better he could create the demand, push whatever he needed to. Likewise with women he could pick up quickly what they wanted or encourage them to want him.
He was the apple, and they always took a bite.
Though even with these talents he could never find complete resolution in any action. This pushed him to strive harder becoming confident and capable and a success to others, but inside he knew that for him actions were no more than that. Of course he found some immediate joy in conquest, in gaining the experience, but he wanted some deep passion, some deep experience, some deep light to awaken his heart, to make him stand straight with cause. But no…
At night he had wandered the streets of Bangkok searching too for that deep well where he could drink and activate his spirit. But found himself only wandering to the pubs and the bars of a lost, cored out city, sometimes though he peaked into little stores and into side walk temples.
Thailand had never been colonized, but he surely felt betrayed there, maybe better he thought he felt let down. He wanted to go to Vietnam, to the country where his ancestors had gone, a place he was sure would be more pure; the irony of age he thought drinking a beer and saying “no” to girls in purple mini skirts who probed with small flat noses.
The girls understood and hardly pressed, as they knew his type, it was futile, for he was the type who would initiate and not them. At the fair this was most obvious, made their final trades, and the sellers packed their goods into press, his boss hinted of their nocturnal adventures through brothels, of little girls they had taken, of evenings of sin. But there it was false; it was purchased, and taken without efforts. He wanted to feel like Hemingway, not an offender.
Though when he was 17 on a trip to Lyon he had been like them, wandering the streets on his way to the house of his cousin, an older lady captured his attention. She reeked of wisdom like an onion, layers upon layers. A cold shower made her pure and young again, and watching her enter only in slick black lace he realized that women only appreciate with age, and only turn to vinegar if they become bitter, motherly, and forget their worth. And without much thought or plan, over a bed that creaked over planks that were warped with age he gained experience becoming a man. Like that, thinking it the right thing to do, when done he kissed her hand rolled onto his back like tonight, a hunter proud of some mountain he imagined he had climbed. There staring forward into the ceiling he could see clouds of Kilimanjaro, of a barely snow covered tip. Was it Kenya or Tanzania? Did it matter?
He wondered what her husband was like? He could see some fanatic, who if learned of their night would rip out his soul? Join his brothers against the crusades? He wondered what caste she was a part of? Were Muslims part of the caste system, if at all? What did she do with her time? He imagined her home long hours in front of soap operas making tea and pressing cakes, de-boning mutton, stewing it for hours. Boiling rice in turmeric, dripping rose water into milk and reducing it to fat. He wondered where she lived. She barely spoke English, his Hindi was poor, but maybe it was better. Language made things more complicated. Here they could have no time to muddle over connotations, she could not gage or take references of his last name, of his hometown or judge him on his speech, as was the same for him. They were reduced to the exotic, to the other. She was for him pure, a dark soul he would tempt, and him a savior, a night of rebellion. Who used who is difficult to discern? But after 10 hours of delays and a flight from Thailand, he lost his resilience against empires, and seeing her next to him in the hostel near the airport. He was surprised because she looked deep into his eyes, he felt at last a women in this land who hinted at him. They chatted for a few minutes, she asked of his work, they jangled, and quietly without care of those others in the hostel, doors were closed, socks flicked off, and silk removed. She wore deep beautiful lace, a perfect set. His friend who had grown up in Algeria had not lied, under the lengths of black, these women rebelled in individual expression. Their inner garments, personal, expensive, luscious and tailored for their curves. They were princess in their own right. What would Japheth say if he had known of his daughter? They did not care - among silent whispers they added to the heat.
His plane would leave in the morning. He knew he would soon have to shift his weight slightly and quietly, leaving her room without her name. He would leave and mark his book only with memory. He would share later with his friends, a night of passion in spring, a sudden find, a sudden treasure. An evening at the summit of K2.