He slipped his arms around my waist and pulled me into his body, the movement woke me and as I wriggled free and over to my side of the bed I silently chastised myself for being so stingy. I should have got my own room, I should have got my own bed at least. Being economical was a trait that had let me down before yet this tendency towards keeping my purse strings tied tight would prove in the near future to be the lesser of the shortcomings, taking a back seat and completely dwarfed by the supreme ruler: Absolute Stupidity. In my thick-headed mind I had placed Dick in the position of bufferer of sex advances and an entity to replace book at the dinner table. While he basically fulfilled his given posts he was a dull lad, lacking spark and personality but I was happy to continue to bare his blandness and live a life of no colour in return for the shield from male advances he unintentionally provided. Unsurprisingly Dick’s shield had some major holes in it, although it kept most of the general public outside my precinct of personal space it did little to keep out the con artists in the region. This was demonstrated by the two separate and unpleasant interactions in jewellery stores with shady men asking us to do dodgy deals. And as my plan caved in on itself I continued to persist in carrying it out.
Rajasthan was over-touristy, hot, dusty and full of Indians trying to sell me stuff I didn’t want. Gone were the Himalayan mountains and lush valleys, gone was fun friends and days filled with excitement, gone was any form of an upbeat attitude. My birthday passed in a whirl of shitty dust, the forts, temples and my tight fisted visit to the arse end of the Taj Mahal did little to catch my imagination. Why I made no move to change my social circumstances at this point I will always wonder. It was about this time I received the unwelcome news that Buzz’s cancer had grown back. I tried to believe that the anxiety caused by me abandoning my puppy had nothing to do with the regrowth of the growth although the timing told me it did. I pushed the guilt to the back of my mind and pushed on with my travels.
It was in the last few days of my Rajasthan experience that I discovered joy. I had finally found a friend and it broke my heart to watch the bright red blood ooze from my new pals nose plug hole, the injury was a result of the punishment he took after he decided to go on a exhilarating sprint across the Thar desert plains leaving the rest of the party eating dust. Through the rough disciplinary actions of our tour guide my camel winked at me and I hoped he detected my gratitude. We snacked on the fruits of monsoonal rains: green peas, berries and watermelons and I amazed at the dung beetle efficiency, so magnetised by camel poo that they had rolled it up and shipped it out within seconds of the digested grass hitting the sandy desert floor. At night I bathed in the pristine skies awash with glitter and by day lost myself in the daydream and gentle sway of my camel’s plod. The quiet hum of the desert heat led me to slip into a fairy tale trance until I was jolted by frenzied shouts. “Kick it madam, kick it!!!” I smiled and braced myself for another intoxicating dash through the dunes but as the camel suddenly slumped to the ground I leapt from saddle to narrowly miss a crushed leg while the hooligan rolled over in the sand. I ignored Dick’s roaring laughter behind me and thanked the endearing rascal with a kind pat for providing me with more entertainment than Dick was able to provide in a lifetime. As the trek came to an end and my heart eventually began to warm to the “land of kings” I was sad to be rushing off on the bus to Ahmedabad. But also I felt good times ahead and I was looking forward to the unceremonious ditching of Dick and some healing ocean swims off the west coast of the country.
I was famished, we hadn’t eaten since the gritty curry in the desert at lunchtime and as the bus pulled up I offered to seek out sustenance. Now listen closely here folks because this is the part where the Absolute Stupidity fits in. It was here that I left all my important possessions in the hands of a slow witted, insipid, con artist magnet. The four words that came out of Dick’s mouth next still ring in my ears today. “I’ll mind the bags”. Returning laden with peanuts and overripe bananas I find Dick sitting next to a great big, fat, hollow, empty space.
Beige had just left the building. Life had just became un-dull.