Three miles west of nowhere, I wait atop a grassy knoll landscaped with deliberate carelessness by the authorities of this semi-dilapidated amusement park. She said she will meet me here at the appointed time but as luck would have it, neither one of us owns a watch. Ravenous crows with their wings a-stretched and eyes a-bulged circle overhead: a dark, black ring set against a grey sky. I scan my surroundings and find myself alone… as alone as the day I was born. As I shoo my mother, the doctor and his two nurses away, I wonder where she might be at this very moment: caught in a jam full of traffic or confined to her room by the elders of her household, barred from meeting the man she loves and his lustrous, well-coiffed do.
Creepily crawling ants dodge my sneakered soles as they make their way home for the day. Leaves rustle and droop as they emit whiffs of carbondioxide that make my blood pressure plunge. City lights flicker in the distance as a rickshaw throttles by on the road below, polluting my environs and coating the withering leftovers of a despondent spring with soot and non-biodegradable petrol fumes.
Is that her I see walking up the garden path? Is that her mauve scarf fluttering in the breeze? Is that the soft clanging of her silver bangles I hear? Is that apparition her I wonder or is it a wet baboon, searching for his evening supper in the municipality rubbish bin?
My life is a story best left untold.
But for her, I would have committed hara kiri (or at least kama sutra) many moons ago. Her love gives me the strength to go on, gives me the courage to wage a daily battle against injustice, despondency, and congenital constipation. She is the wind within my bowels, the release of my sporadic yet lethal flatulence.
Every alternate Sunday of every other month of every single leap year, I wait for her to appear to soothe my jangled nerves and calm my tortured soul. Her ample girth has the ability to absorb all my worries like nothing else on earth. Whenever we embrace, I can feel her fallopians collapse. Her magnetism is stronger than the pull of the earth as it orbits the sun. Her potent odour makes my testicles jar at a hundred paces.
The park empties slowly as children and their nannies begin to make preparations to wind up their merry games and begin their long journey home. Children in silk t-shirts and lycra shorts run away from their minders, desperate to get one last chance to score a goal on the muddy, makeshift football pitch. Nannies clad in halter-tops and cotton sarongs wave goodbye to their paramours and puff their last cigarettes. The air is rich with a heady mix of unbridled lust and casual intercourse so typical of the Orient. Sputum flowers all along the sidewalk: betel nut spit, crimson like the setting sun, jostles with phlegm for attention. Somewhere by the bushes, a young boy picks his nose… over by the carousel, the ticket collector breaks wind.
The metaphors of the east are sprinkled liberally, deliberately, on every vista of this magnificent public space that glows like a jewel in the Nile even though it is a continent away from that pharaohnic river.
I recall our last meeting at this very spot upon which I rest my ample buttocks. She looked divine, touched by the dust of stars and roadside detritus.
“We have been here before, if you remember,” she says.
“Your every word is etched on the tablet of my being. How can I forget?” I respond.
“The sky is puce.”
“Like the color of my heart?” I ask.
“A half-boiled two-star general inspecting a corner plot on a fiery July afternoon is puce… like every other joy inflicted upon us in this universe,” she says.
“Do your parents know about our shared joy? Our bastard will be 11 this year. How long can we continue to hide his existence? Soon he will begin to sprout whiskers and then where will we be?” I ask a little worried.
“My family thinks the hump under my chadar is old age wreaking its havoc on me… the curse of Quasimodo for choosing the life of an independent, career-counseling lesbian who is unafraid of the world yet scared shitless when facing her own demons,” she says.
“I can not bear to see you go through this alone, dear heart,” I say. “Let us elope to a land where the twain only meets on Sundays; where suicide bombings are scarcer than suicide blondes; where swimming pools are chlorinated and bananas are sticker-priced before being put on sale; where modernity means bare bosoms; where emotions reign unchecked; where all udders are full of milk and honey; where each child is de-loused every six months… where you and I can openly hold hands and take a casual stroll through a nudist colony.”
There is a terrible consequence to love. Caught in a perpetual maelstrom of passion and jagged emotions, the heart is like a queen bee stung by its own sting: writhing one minute in agony and its apocryphal corollaries and fleeing that despair with the alacrity of a joyous, de-frocked priest the very next. The French, champions of the art of love, have captured that emotion most aptly in a single word: merde!
I pray for deliverance from the constant wracking of my innards as I wait for her. Deep inside my wretched soul I know she will disappoint me yet again. My heart is heavy with melancholy, my lips quiver with choked tears, and my eyelashes droop with running mascara. Every moment that I wait for her weighs like elephant dung upon my soul. Faustian fears envelope me and tempt me with promises of a joyous union. Cherubs taunt me by shaking their diapered booties. Cupid mocks me as it sniggers like a laughing hyena in heat. My loins girdle as they circumabulate the fading memory of her elusive breasts.
She was a mirage: my beautiful, unattainable hump-backed whore.
When will I be strong enough to let her go? Will her mammaries stalk my every thought forever?
As the sun sets, gossamer dewdrops of a moist Karachi evening settle beatifically upon the bridge of my bulbous nose, signaling the end of another forlorn chapter from this weary book I call life.
That great Muslim traveler Ibn Batuta was right: if we take the third right after Damascus, we will see that the road to the beloved’s heart goes straight through our nether regions. Perhaps it is time to heed the advice of the sage.