Wednesday, 16 December 2009
THE LADY WITH THE LOVELY BLACK HAIR
"Wait!" called out Tashi, tugging at his young companion, attired in jeans and woolen jacket. "Did you see her?"
"I did, what a beauty, a full moon to a cloudless sky."
"Which one are you talking about?"
"I am talking about that one, the one with the dark hair. And those eyes! My God, what eyes! The entire bearing and the contours! The cast of the face- amazing!"
"Actually, I am talking about the dyed blonde who was walking behind her, in that direction. Why don't you go for the dark one if she so took your fancy?"
"What an idea!" exclaimed the young man in jeans, flushing, "As if she is one of those women who flaunt themselves in Thimphu streets at night; She must be an extremely distinguished lady", he continued with a sigh, "Her necklace alone must have cost her 15,000 ngultrums!"
"You dolt!" shouted Tashi, pushing him in the direction taken by her billowing necklace:
"Get on a move, you stupid, or you'll lose her! And I'll go for the blonde."
The two friends parted.
"We know your kind”, Tashi mused with a conceited and self-assured smile, convinced that there was no beauty who could withstand him.
The young man in jeans set off with a timid and hesitant step in the direction of the sparkling necklace, which billowed in the distance, shining brightly as it approached the street lights, and the next instant moving away to be swallowed in the gloom. His heart pounded as he involuntarily quickened his step. He dared not contemplate the possibility of attracting the attention of this elusive beauty, let alone admit such lewd thoughts as those friends Tashi had been suggesting, he only wanted to see where his beauty was headed, to find the destination of this divine creature, who it seemed, had descended directly from heaven onto Norzin Lam and was floating away to some unknown destination. He himself dashed along so fast that he repeatedly knocked from the pavement, indifferent dark-bearded gentlemen.
This young man belonged to that class, which constitutes one of the strange phenomena of our life, which is as much part of Thimphu citizenry as a person seen in a dream is a part of the real world. This unique class is the most remarkable in a city where migration from the rural to urban areas seeking a better life is a commonplace. Our young man was a class twelve PCA (pass certificate awarded) candidate. But, who was not eligible for further studies. A strange phenomenon, do you not agree? A dropout after class twelve! A dropout in the land of mountains, a dropout in the land of Drukpas, where everything is green, rough, pale, grey, and misty. These dropouts bear little resemblance to their Bhutanese counterparts, as proud and peace-loving as Bhutan and its mountains; these, on the contrary, are for the most part, kind and meek people, shy and unworldly, people who are quietly devoted to job seeking, and fond of drinking beer with their two friends in a small bar, modestly discussing the subject closest to their hearts and scorning all luxury. They are frequently endowed with genuine talent, and were the fresh wind of new jobs to blow on them this talent would probably blossom as freely, generously, and brightly as a potted plant which has at last been brought outdoors into the fresh air. On the whole, they are timid: a star and an imposing desire will reduce them to such a state of trepidation that they involuntarily lower their standard to join some teaching institutes. Such type was our young man, 'the dropout after class twelve ' Yezer, shy and retiring, but nourishing in his heart sparks of feeling, ready to burst into flame at the first appointment as an apprentice teacher in some school.
With a secret tremor, he quickened his pace and even marveled at his own daring. Suddenly the unknown creature to whom his eyes, thoughts, feelings were so firmly fastened, turned her head, and glanced in his direction. Good God, what divine features! Her exquisite eyebrows, dazzling in its whiteness, was framed by a flounce of hair as beautiful as agate and as black as a moonless night. The lustrous locks curled as they fell, and some of them escaped from her head to brush against her cheek, hinted a fresh delicate color by the evening chill. The curve of her lips was suggestive of a swarm of the most enchanting reveries. She glanced at Yezer, and on catching her eyes his heart fluttered; it was a stern look and her face took on an expression of displeasure that anyone should have the impudence thus to pursue her, but on this lovely face even anger was enchanting. Covered with shame and confusion he halted and lowered his gaze; but how could he bear to lose his goddess and discover in what sanctum she agreed to make her destination? Such were the thoughts that flocked our young hero's head, and he determined to continue his pursuit. But to ensure that this would be unnoticed he increased the distance between them, casually looking about himself and surveying the shop-signs, not, however, missing a single step taken by the lovely stranger with the black hair.
The passerby started to thin out, the street grew quieter, his unknown beauty looked back, and he seemed to see a shadow of a smile flit across her lips. He shivered all over, unable to believe his eyes. No, it was the deceptive light of the street lamp that had given her face the semblance of a smile- no; it was his own fancy mocking him. But he suddenly caught his breath and started to tremble all over, as a burning sensation seized him and a mist settled over his eyes. The pavement slipped away beneath him, and the cars with their speed seemed motionless beside him; buildings turned upside down and the lettering of the shop-signs seemed to be sparkling on one of his eyelashes.
All this was caused by a single glance, a single turn of a pretty head. Unseeing, unhearing, and insensible to everything, he hurtled along in the tracks of those dainty feet, vainly endeavoring to restrain the pace of his footsteps, which were keeping time with the beating of his heart. At moments he would be seized by a doubt; was he right to read encouragement in her eyes?-and he would pause for a moment, but the pounding of his heart, the irresistible force, and the excitement of his feelings drove him onwards. He did not even notice the building which suddenly loomed before him. He saw the beautiful stranger with the lovely black hair fly up some stairs, look round, put a finger to her lips, and give him a sign to follow her. His knees trembled; his heart and mind were afire; his breast was scared by an unbearably sharp pang of joy. No, this was no trick of his imagination! My God; such happiness contained in a single instant! What bliss in a mere few seconds!
But was he not perhaps dreaming all this? Could it be true that this creature, for one heavenly glance from whom he was prepared to sacrifice his life, and to approach whose destination he felt to be an unimaginable joy, that this same creature was now being so well-disposed and attentive towards him? He flew up the stairs, just in moments to wake up to the realization that the building housed a discotheque.
The staircase spiraled upwards, and with it, soared the swift flight of his fancy. The sound of her voice caused him to tremble anew in every nerve. High up on the third floor, the stranger got into a room. He followed.
No sooner had Yezer stepped into the discotheque than he was swept up in its endless summer: he encountered a hundred inscrutable characters and phenomena. It was as though an entire sea of butterflies had suddenly taken off into the air to hover in a shimmering cloud above the black beetles of the male sex. Here he encountered waists the like of which he had not seen even in his dreams: slender, narrow waists no thicker the neck of a bottle, on beholding which he respectfully stepped aside lest inadvertently he should jostle them with an impolite elbow; his heart was seized with timidity and fear lest a careless breath of his might snap those most exquisite work of art and nature. He concluded at length, for lifting ladies into the air was as simple and agreeable a task as raising a mouthful of beer to the lips. And nowhere did he find youngsters greet one another with hugs of such noble unconstraint as they did at discotheques.
Likewise, Yezer thrust himself deeper into the crowd trying to find the stranger with the lovely black hair. Here, he discovered such fine collections of feet, thumping hard on the floor beneath, with such vigor and rhythm- the clumsy boot of a boy, shortly retired from the bar, whose impact seemed to splinter the very floor below, and the tiny slipper, as light as a puff of smoke, of the young lady, who turned her sparkling face to every passerby as a sunflower to the sun.
Slowly, it dawned upon Yezer that nothing could be livelier than discotheques, at least in Thimphu. He not only saw teenagers and young fellows of twenty, sporting splendid hairdos and a remarkably well-branded pair of shoes, but also the old gentlemen with hairs jutting from his chin. Ladies... Ladies were more enamored by discos and had a place higher in priority, most of it all, to them. He let loose his mind to think, without fear of contradiction, that discos provided the one pastime in a city starved of entertainment.
But Good God, where was she? At first, he would not believe she was lost in the crowd and he set about studying the objects with which the room was filled with: mirrored walls at parts to give a spacious impression of the room, hanging jackets on the railing, slumping figures on the coach- out of breath, couples kissing and fiddling each other, and the dancing heaters which eliminated global warming in the room.
At this hour, the air was vibrant with a sense of purpose or something rather like it though not so easy for Yezer to pin down.
He left the room at long length without a hint or sign of his lady with the lovely black hair, and repaired to the adjacent bar, where he learned, there was one.
Lord! What strange characters he saw at the adjacent bar! Many of the people he met at the bar at once lowered their eyes to his shoes, and should he walk past them they looked back to observe the kind of clothing he was in. To this day he is unable to comprehend why they should do that. And the people in the bar, like every self-respecting Bhutanese, were frightful drinkers.
The bar proved less spiteful, whence Yezer headed downstairs and then reluctantly, home-wards.
Midnight had long since struck, and his digital watch beeped once, but he sat motionless on his bed, not asleep and not properly awake. Drowsiness crept over him, taking advantage of his stillness, and the room began to fade away until only the light from the street-lamps penetrated the dream which overtook his senses when suddenly a knock on the door jolted him awake. The door opened to show the face of his friend Tashi.
"The lady with the lovely black hair”, announced Tashi excitedly, "whose presence you were trying to make a few hours previously, requests that you be invited to her party. The lady who so took your fancy so happened to be a good friend of that dyed blonde I went after."
"No, there must have been a mistake...", Yezer thought.
"Listen, man, "he said timidly, "It would seem you're talking to a wrong guy. That lady with the lovely black hair must clearly have sent you for someone else, not for me."
But then, Yezer got dressed anyway and followed his friend down the hallway.
Sure enough, there was a car in the street. They got in, the door shut behind Yezer, and shortly the illuminated facades of the buildings with their bright signs flashed past his face. All the way he pondered, unable to make head or tail of this adventure. They stopped in front of the building housing the discotheque. They took to the stairs and Yezer flew up in a swift.
Now, once inside the hall, he longed to be as far as possible from the beauty with the lovely black hair. In fear and trepidation, he raised his eyes to see whether she was looking at him and--God! She was standing in front of him. Meanwhile, she raised her eyelashes and cast a radiant look about her.
"Mmm..., how lovely..." was all he could say, catching his breath. She looked around the entire circle, all of whom longed to draw her attention, but soon she turned away from them with a bored nonchalance, and her eyes met those of Yezer.
She gave him a sign-but not with her hand, nor with a nod of her head: this sign was expressed in her compelling eyes, expressed so subtly and imperceptibly it was seen by no one but our hero, and he alone understood it.
The dance went on for a long time; the weary music would appear to be dying away and then would burst into life once more, shrill and strident, then at last! It was over. She sat down, her bosom heaving underneath its fine dress, her hand (Lord, what a lovely hand!) fell on her knees, crushing her silk dress, which seemed to tumble with the music.
--Oh, only to touch her, and no more!-He wished for no more, it would be foolhardy to ask for more...He stood near her bench, not daring to speak or breathe.
"Were you bored?" She asked, "I also was. I observe that you hate me....." She added, fluttering her eyelashes.
"Hate you! Me? Why....." Poor, confused Yezer was on the point of saying, and would have surely blurted out a stream of the most incoherent words, but at this moment, a friend of her, with his hair swept in a superb wave on top of his head, stepped up with a number of witty pleasantries. He smiled agreeably; displaying, rather, a good row of teeth and with each of his witticisms drove another sharp nail into Yezer's heart. Finally, he was saved by another guest who turned to the good row of teeth with a question.
"Oh, it is unbearable!" she said, raising her heavenly eyes to look at him.
"I'll be sitting at the other end of the room: be there!" She floated away and disappeared. He frantically elbowed his way through the crowd and was soon by her side.
"Here you are, "she said softly, "I'll be sincere with you; no doubt the circumstances of our meeting stuck you as strange. But surely you did not think that I....." But at this moment a man, fairly advanced in years, came up and she was stolen away, again! But, before she left, she gave Yezer an imploring look, signaling him to stay where he was and wait for her to return, but he was in such a flurry of impatience that he was unable to obey any orders, even from her own lips.
He could no longer see the one silk dress; he wandered in agitation from one room to another, remorselessly shoving people out of his way. He scuttled into another room-but she was not there. Into a third-not there either.
"Where can she be? Oh, give her back to me! I shall die if I don't set eyes on her again! I must hear what she was going to tell me."
Alas, all his searching was in vain. Exhausted and agitated he squeezed into a corner and stared at the crowd, but the scene before his overexcited eyes started to grow dim. Finally, he seemed to make out quite distinctly the walls of his own room. He lifted his eyes; Gloomy and cross like a rain-drenched cockerel; he sat down on his bed and wondered what to do next...
So he had been asleep! Good God, what a dream! But why had he woken up? Why did he not wait one minute: She would surely have re-appeared!
The bleak, unwelcome face of dawn appeared at his window, shedding its cold, dull light over the disorder of his room. Oh, how repulsive was reality! How revolting! How could he face it after his dream? He swiftly undressed and got into bed, wrapping a blanket about him, longing to recall his lost dream if only for a moment.
Sleep indeed wasted no time in answering his call, but the visions it brought were very different from the ones he wanted to see: First, his friend Tashi smoking a cigarette, then his old school teacher, then a pot-bellied high officer, then his hostel warden who had once struck him several times and suchlike rubbish.
He lay on his bed until midday, longing for sleep, but she didn’t come to him. Casting all other thoughts from his mind he sat there feeling utterly dejected, filled with thoughts of his dream. He had no desire to do anything; his eyes stared dully and listlessly out of the window.
--If he could only for one moment glimpse her lovely features, her lovely black hair, or hear her dainty footsteps, or sense her naked arm, as dazzling and white as snow, flit across his eyes---
For a week, he lived only for his dreams; every day, he impatiently waited for evenings to fall and hurried to sleep: each night he dreamt of the school night watchman chasing away dogs, then his warden striking him several times, then his friend smoking....and never his lady with the lovely black hair...
One night, she came in his dreams. Her lovely head and hair...She was about to say.....Oh, how soon it was over! Again, a mist settled over the scene and another stupid dream took its place…
After living one week of stupid dreams he took himself to the same discotheque, not predicting he might see her a second time. Nothing notable took place in the early hours of the evening at the disco. But around half past midnight, an event took place which cannot be described by any pen.
Holy ones, you should have seen how she, the lady with the lovely black hair, was dressed. Her eyes sparkled like the sun, just like the sun, Yezer swore.
No earthly thought passed through his head; He was not fired by the flame of earthly passion, no, at this moment he was pure and chaste. He saw the beautiful stranger close into him with a knowing purpose, as if, she had read his eyes, and the eyes alone had radiated all he had to say.
He froze before her and was once again on the point of forgetting himself. But the girl grew tired of this long silence and gave a knowing smile, looking him straight in the eye. It was a smile full of shameless invitation, as unsuited to her face as an expression of guilt to a "trulku" in the company of beautiful girls, or Karnaugh map to the hand of a poet. He shuddered. She opened her pretty mouth and started to say something, but it was all so stupid, so vulgar, and so full of ashes...
"....Nu.1000 per throw, and 5000 for a night's luxury......"
It was as though a person should lose his mind with his virtue. He desired to hear no more. Our hero was quite a ridiculous person, as naive as a child. Instead of availing himself of such a favorable opportunity, instead of being delighted at such luck, which would undoubtedly have delighted anyone else in his place, he rushed headlong out of the disco-like a startled deer and ran into the cold streets of Thimphu…
thoroughly enjoyed reading it. is it non-fiction writing? hehe.. I met a lot of Yezers out there...by the way, how about trying "lose" in place of "loose"? it's not like the hero will unfasten the girl of his dreams in the middle of the town, will he?
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