Master of the Moon: Chapter 37

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July 1st 2013
Published: July 1st 2013
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Tashi invited Frank to a picnic at Gokarna, the King's forest, with a couple of musician friends of his, including a tabla player and his teenage son. They sat by a pool with dark green, foetid water, which they assured him was perfectly clean, and while the food was cooking in water taken from the pool, his companions sang and danced to the sounds of a harmonium, and the clean pitter-patter of the tabla drums. Frank observed for a while until his inhibitions had been dissolved by raksi, after which he joined in, clumsily following the movements of his companions.

Some time back, Tashi had seen an old flame of his at the house of the tabla player. He had not realised until that moment that she was the tabla player’s daughter, and he spent much of the picnic winning the confidence and future co-operation of her young brother.

They walked back to Bodnath to catch a bus; or rather, they sang and danced their way back much to the amusement of the villagers. A woman accosted the party, and Tashi assured Frank that she was a whore. He wouldn't believe it, so Tashi went up to her and pinched her bottom to prove it. Apparently, the manner in which she moved away, swaying her hips, gave away her profession. Anyway, she wasn't pretty and they moved on. At Bodnath, Frank reminded Tashi that he had promised to show him the pleasure-haunts that he said he frequented, so he took him and two of the musicians into an old-fashioned house and ordered chang.

Two girls, one pretty and bold, the other shy and less attractive, with a whiney voice, came down the wooden stairs, and after a glance in their direction, sat apart and seemed to ignore them. They had obviously just done business, because they were followed down the stairs by a couple of sheepish-looking men. After they had paid and left, Tashi asked the prettier girl if she remembered him. She did, and came over and sat beside him. It wasn't long before they were embracing each other in full view of the party. 'Mother', the madam, suggested that they all go upstairs to the entertainment room so that they could continue in greater privacy. There they danced and played the fool a bit for the girls' sake, but it became obvious that the only one they were really interested in was Tashi, their old pal. From time to time Tashi would remind the girls to pay attention to Frank, but after duty had been done - a feel, a cuddle, a kiss - they returned to him. Frank was not surprised - women couldn't resist Tashi. He felt a little jealous, but he could console himself that the others were being even less successful than him.

The evening was not consummated by any of them. There was a lot of discussion between Tashi and the others, presumably because there were not enough girls or not enough money, or not enough of either. 'Mother' informed Tashi that he was welcome any time, but should try to avoid Saturdays and Sundays. They departed with Tashi promising to return, and confiding in Frank that they would both go together one day during the week.

Not long after this Tashi took a holiday on a Tuesday. Frank asked Kalpana if he had had a good day. “I should think so”, she replied turning her head away. She knew what he got up to in Bodnath.


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