east indies

IN THE CELLAR LIBRARY, my psychologist dusts off dusty volumes and reads her favorite lines aloud to me. The area is dimly but warmly lit, the air as cool as a saint’s tomb. She wears a long skirt and a white blouse with neat buttons and her movements are wise and deliberate and this is why I cannot restrain myself from at last kissing her. “Oh my,” she says as if stunned and drops the book. “My, what have you done?” Then comes the surrender and relinquishing to the energetic biological flow, and the two warm bodies find themselves joined on the cellar library floor with old prewar volumes piled up all around, stacks and stacks of them. I know she is far too old for me, but she is also so wise and I just cannot help it. There is hair and garments everywhere, and it’s quite a satisfying experience the love making, mõnus, as the Estonians say, nice, sweet. Then it’s over and we have to leave for the East Indies. Our hotel is in a shopping center on some upper floor, the lower floor is devoted to restaurants and electronics stores, and you can get a good discount on some new devices if you want some. I go out to buy a few items, but there’s no grocery store in sight and I am wandering and wandering through the corridors of the shopping center, and then duck into some thatched bungalows next door where hundreds of East Indians live in cramped rooms and the air is thick with humidity and Covid-19. Doors lead to hallways that lead past other crowded bungalow rooms and on to other doors. At last I emerge into the sunshine and palm trees, into the distant roar of the surf, the spicy smell of the East Indies, and make my way back to the hotel, but there has been some kind of great flood and the first floor is brimming with clear salty ocean water, and giant starfish have attached themselves to window glass, baby sharks cut by, as do dolphins which surface and dive, surface and dive. Half soaked, I return to the hotel room weary, but all is well. The psychologist is there by the table with a book, reading in peace. She yawns a bit and turns the pages by candle light. She didn’t even know I went away.

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