Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I had been with the trade caravans since I was a boy. Now no longer a young man, I knew every inch of the routes between Kashgar and Buchara - where there was water for man and camel, where there was shelter, the passes over the Tien Shan, and where bandits were likely to attack.
Buchara was the endpoint of my westward journey, and I had never been further west. I always hoped that one day I would journey to see the Amu Darya, the famed River Oxus. But it was never to be.
You told me you had never been out of Buchara in your life, and you loved to hear my traveler's tales. Your complex was my first and only stop after I discharged my duties - the settling of the animals and the goods (most important of all, the precious silk), the paying of the men, and then a stop at the temple to give thanks for the completion of a safe journey.
When I reached your place, filthy and dust-covered, feeling more like beast than man, you always seemed to be expecting me. You welcomed me as a long-awaited friend, and treated me as the only man worthy of your attention. It mattered not at all that that wasn't the case.
You led me into a changing room and lovingly undressed me. You took me into a shower and washed six months of dirt and sand off my body. The feel of your hands, and of warm water, after such a long time was a pleasure that seemed brand new each time, and that never grew old. You dried me, wrapped me in silk robes, and took me to my bed-chamber. I was asleep as soon as my body hit the soft cushions, and the last thing I remembered was your smile and your kiss to my forehead.