Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim - 4

5
Salim becomes Salome

Salim, still dressed in women's clothes ran away from the city as fast as he could, which was quite fast, since he was young, thin, and got lots of exercise. He ran past the decaying bridges, he ran past the crumbling schools. He ran past the over age libraries. But the police stations were all shiny and new.

He ran out to the countryside as night fell, but still he kept running. In the dark, he stumbled into a camp and tripped over a tent and fell forward. They looked at this person, who they saw in women's clothes and stood him up. It was clear that he was a man in women's clothes. He looked around, most of the people he saw were also in women's clothing, and most were clearly men, and most of the rest were not clearly women.

Then a wiry old man pointed at the new comer and said.

“Look, a new Hijra come to join us!”

They all clapped and applauded.

Soon several were clustered around him, very very close, but not touching. Then finally one began to stroke Salim's face, which was just developing a ragged beard. Other reached out and twirled a finger in his hair, which was still short, and another touched the hem of his clothes, which was worn. Then, as if by signal they descended upon him, cleaning his nails, shaving his face, scenting his hair, putting on make up. Salim was too terrified to move.

They continued to tease the hair, they pasted false finger nails on, and false eyelashes, they rouged his cheeks again, they pushed him into high wedge shoes, they put a red dot on his forehead, and they dropped large sunglasses on his face, round with turtleshell rims.

God is good. God is great, but even God can go gaga.

When they were done, there stood a glowing apparition, which, if it could not have possibly been taken for a woman, was clearly no longer presenting as a man. Salim was speechless as they rolled up a mirror, but not in a good way.

His knees knocked together, he was terrified, he knew no more about being a Hijra, really, than he knew about anything. However, this was refuge of a sort, and if he could simply slip away at some point, he could collect the money and valuables that he had hidden in his grandmother's house, and be free, after a fashion, to find his wives, and somehow bounce back from this most recent reverse.

For once, he really was not in any difficulty as to knowing the wrong thing to do, he was sure that hiding like this as a coward, while who knows what was done to his wives and his children, was the wrong thing to do.

God is good. God is great. Particularly great at providing those painful moments of unforgettable clarity.

At this point, they took him before the guru, who leered a lecherous leer at him, but made no motion towards him physically. Salim felt his bones turn to yoghurt, and his meat become as flaccid as chicken cooked in a clay pot, almost ready to fall apart at the slightest touch.

The guru clapped his hands together three times.

“Wonderful! Since we have weddings soon, the new she must be taught how to dance!” There was noise and clapping and shaking of bells and small cymbals.

“Now tell me, what was your name in your old life?”

Salim did not like the sound of that, but in a quavering voice he said: “Salim.”

“Wonderful, you are half way to a new life.”

There was noise and clapping and shaking of bells and small cymbals.

“Your new name, is Salome.”

There was noise and clapping and shaking of bells and small cymbals.

“Do you have anything to say, Salome?”

Salim had nothing to say, but he found that Salome had a good deal to say.

“I am not sure I am really meant for this,” and then remembering some ghost of the manners he was taught, quickly changed course, “Attention and care. You are all too kind, and I am positively unworthy.”

“So, you, Salome, think you are not really cut out for this?”

“Well, yes.” Said Salome. Or Salim. Both, either. It really was a duet in one voice on that one.

“Wonderful!”

There was noise and clapping and the shaking of bells and small cymbals.

“So, Salome, we will make the final cut on you in a week, and then you will truly feel cut out for this.”

Salome wasn't sure about this, and Salim was positively horrified.

God is good. God is great. God gives you want you deserve to get.

So they took Salome away and began teaching her the dances and chants and gestures that made up their wedding dance. Sadly, neither Salim nor Salome had any rhythm what-so-ever, and had no voice at all. In part, this was because every moment he was quaking with dread about what was to happen, and partly because, well he had no talent at all. Whenever he was to turn left, she went right, whenever he was supposed to go towards the audience, she went away, whenever he was supposed to spin right, she spun left.

But this worked, since everyone quickly learned that Salome could not remember the steps, but had an almost instinctual ability to read everyone else and go exactly the wrong way, it made Salome a natural star of the dancing. After two days, they were very happy, but of course, Salome was miserable. Finally, one very old Hijra came to Salome's tent late at night. Salim and Salome were both scared that he was going to be used like a woman, but instead the old Hijra spoke softly and said.

“I have seen that you are frightened.”

Salim and Salome both bobbed their head up and down violently.

“It is natural.”

Salim thought because all of this it was unnatural, at least for him.

“So because of this, I give you this.” She offered up a bag that was fragrant of some hard to place odor.

“What will it do, oh old wise one?” Salome at least, could find her voice, Salim was still busy grieving his not yet lost manhood.

“This will make your manhood shrivel, and your testicles ascend, it will weaken their effect, but it is almost always reversible. We give this to those who are not quite sure yet that they want to go this road permanently.

Salim was overjoyed, rapidly thanks flowed, and Salim listened very attentively, very, very, oh so attentively, to the instructions for preparation and application. He wanted to use not a drop more than needed, but not a drop less either.

So several days passed, and when the time came Salome was given time to make up her mind, as is the prerogative of women the world over. But they did working her in the weddings. Salim had to get used to all of the indignities that women are subject to at such events, or should have, but never did. Every time he would come back sweating and uncomfortable.

But his being exactly off rapidly became considered to be an attraction. Salim thought that truly, even in dancing, the wrong thing to do, was the right thing to do.
God is good. God is great. And god loves a good party.

However, at one particularly large wedding, with a large and complex dance routine, Salome came too aware of how she was out of step, and of course, she then turned right when she was supposed to. This was a disaster, as one dancer after another tripped and stacked up, creating a huge pile in the center. The drums kept beating. There was noise, there was clapping, there was the shaking o bells and small cymbals. Never had the guests seen such an occurrence. They paid double and then double again for this once in a life time spectacle of every dancer on the stage being wrong, except the one who had been out of step for all of the rest of the dance.

However, sadly for Salim, Salome's leg was broken, and she would not be able to dance for the next several weddings. This, according to the iron laws of the troupe, meant she would not be fed, unless she worked as a sacred prostitute instead. The days passed, and Salim was again terrified. Then on the last meal before the next wedding, inspiration struck. Salim asked for a chance to see the great guru, and Salome was granted time alone with him.

Salome walked in, her brocade dresses having gotten finer and finer as she had brought in more and more money. They rustled softly, as Salome's body had gotten softer under the influence of the tea. The guru gave a lecherous leer. Outside there was noise, and clapping, and the shaking of bells and small cymbals.

“Great guru.”

“Yes, Salome?” His voice dripping with expectation, as much as Salome's body was dripping with sweat.

“I have come to enlightenment on something.”

“Yes, Salome?” The guru's hands were shaking in expectation, as much as Salome's hands were shaking in fear.

“There is something I want as much as life itself.”

“Yes, Salome?” The guru's man flesh grew hard, as much as Salome's ass was hard with clenched up panic.

“I know what I need to do in place of dancing.”

“Yes, Salome?” The guru's body rolled back and forward, as much as Salome's stomach rolled up and down.”

“In the ceremony, it is often the case that a Hijra gives marriage advice.”

The guru thought how wonderful it would be to add Salome to his wives.

“And you have decided?”

“That is the job I want, so that I can be here without being a burden. We do not have one right now.”

The guru's heart sank, the guru's gut sank. But most importantly, the guru's dick sank. But, in the cold light of thought, he thought that this was an idea. A truly horrible idea.

“But Salome, how can you give advice, if you haven't been married.”

The guru gave a lecherous leer, and outside there was noise and all that, because of course the guru had pulled the tent open behind Salome, and everyone could see and hear the whole thing.

“In my old life, I was married. Four times.”

“And so divorced three times. That would disqualify you.”

“No, I was one of the faithful, and had four wives.”

“And stayed married to all of them?”

“Yes, guru.”

Even the guru was impressed, and so he gave his consent.

And there was noise, and clapping, and the shaking of bells and small cymbals.

So the day of the wedding came to pass. The troupe went into town, making noise and clapping, and rattling bells and small cymbals. There was a crowd to meet them, throwing coins at them, while they threw flowers and garlands and containers of lipstick back.

The wedding was held, and after the dancing, Salome was set on a small seat, and the first couple came up, they were both richly dressed and were quite rotund with prosperity. They were also both clearly miserable. The husband mumbled something, and then the wife spoke. She explained that her husband was a successful farmer, and insisted on doing everything himself. She stayed at home, and all she had to do was to cook to occupy her time. So they were fat, but unhappy. Very, very, very, unhappy. The wife moaned about how the husband left her alone in a small house with a leaky roof, and then only came back to shovel food into his face before falling asleep. And snoring. Loudly.

So Salome sat, and Salim had an idea.

“You are to manage the farm, and your husband stay home, and cook for a year.”

“Really?”

“Truly,” said Salome, “The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

There was noise and clapping, and the shaking of bells and small cymbals. What an appropriate decision!

Both made a face, and looked unhappy, but it was less unhappy than before, so they agreed to try it.

The next couple came up.

They were both small boned and thin, and had seen some number of years, though it was hard to say how many. The husband explained that they seemed to be strangers. The wife complained they never talked any more.

This one was easy.

“I want you to fight at least once a day, it does not matter how small a matter it is over. One fight, every day.

“Really?”

“Truly,” said Salome, “The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

There was deadly silence. What a dreadful decision!

Then the third couple came up. They were both slouched forward, and disheveled, as if they barely had had the energy to get dressed.

The wife explained their problem. It seemed they both were depressed because they could not have children, and did not know what to live for.

“Then kill yourselves. Obviously.”

“Really?”

“Truly,” said Salome, “The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

They went around this way, and for months, it seemed they were becoming more and more popular. It seemed that everyone wanted to find out what horrible thing Salome would say next. Finally a whole year had passed, and they came back to the same town that Salome had first officiated a wedding.

The troupe came back, making noise and clapping, and rattling bells and small cymbals. There was a crowd to meet them, throwing coins at them, while they threw flowers and garlands and containers of lipstick back. While they paraded in, a thin woman ran up to Salome, and a thin man behind her. The thin woman threw her arms around Salome. “It is so good of you to return! You have saved our marriage.” Salim's memory was still not good, but even if it had been, it would have been difficult to recognize the person.

“What happened?”

“We were the first couple at the wedding a year ago.”

“And.”

“You told us that we had to swap our duties. I was to run the farm, and he was to cook and clean.”

“And how did it work?”

“Well, first, my husband is a terrible cook. So we both stopped eating because his food was so bad.”

“And.”

“Well we were very unhappy, and it turned out I was a terrible farmer, I wasn't even close enough to strong enough to pull the plow, or to pump the water into the rice paddies.”

“And.”

“Well at first we were miserable, but we thought, you gave us the advice, and we should give it a whole year.”

“And.”

“So we started to lose weight, and I was near home all the time.”

“And.”

“So we began to talk again, and we were both much healthier, having lost so much weight. And I planted vegetables and flowers and other small things.”

“And.”

“Well at this point we were not so unhappy.”

“And.”

“Well I sold the vegetables and flowers, and we had as much money as my husband made from wheat and rice. So we were less unhappy. And another thing, as we lost weight, we both snored less.”

“And.”

“Well then there was a massive typhoon, it ruined the whole grain harvest. We would have been wiped out!”

“Did your husband ever become a better cook?”

“Oh no, but that is the strangest thing, once he was home he did all the cleaning I was not strong enough to do, and did all the repairs that I was not strong enough to do, such as fixing the roof. When the storm came, everything was ready, and we were safe. We stayed the storm out, ate our vegetables, and looked into each other's eyes. Now I am pregnant and we are very happy.”

“Good. See, the wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

“Yes! Thank you Mistress Salome.”

The troupe walked a little way farther, and then a man and a woman ran up to her and embraced her. Salim's memory was still quite poor, but even if it had been better, it would have been difficult to recognize the couple, they looked young, and both of them had skin that was taut.

“Oh Mistress Salome, we are so grateful.”

“What happened?”

“We were the second couple you advised at the wedding.”

“And what happened?”

“Well we started out fighting every day. We were so miserable, and the fighting made it worse! But, we thought, since you gave us the advice, we should try it for a whole year.”

“And.”

“Well, while we fought, at least we were talking to each other, and everything that we had never said came out. Oh so often, the other person had been doing something wrong, and not knowing it. So we changed these things one by one. We were a little less unhappy.”

“And.”

“Two things happened. First, we started talking without fighting, and second, we became so good at arguing, that we both applied to law school, and have both been accepted. So now, we will both be lawyers, and be respected and well off. All because of fighting every day!”

“That's wonderful. Remember, the wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

“Yes, Mistress Salome!” And they both thanked her.

The troupe progressed very slowly at this point, because they were very near the center of town. When they reached the center, a man and a woman ran up to her and embraced her. Salim's memory was still quite poor, but even if it had been better, it would have been difficult to recognize the couple, they were bright eyed and energetic, and filled with life.

“Oh, Mistress Salome, we are so grateful.”

“What happened?”

“We were the third couple you advised at the wedding.”

“And what happened?”

“Well, we were so depressed, that we agreed to kill each other, but we were both afraid. So my husband studied to be a police officer, and I studied to be an apothecary. We agreed that I would poison him, and he would shoot me.”

“And.”

“Well on the appointed day, we both realized how much we loved life, and how much we had to live for, with him almost ready to graduate and be a police officer, and with me having a good future as an apothecary. So we broke down in tears and hugged each other, and decided never to waste another day.”

“Good. See, the wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

“Yes! Thank you Mistress Salome.”

And so it was, that the fame of Mistress Salome's marriage advice grew, and this went on for another year, until someone came to the troupe and offered Salome a radio show. But Salim refused, since it would mean never escaping this identity, which he still intended to do.
Also during this time, the wise woman who was providing Salome with the tea noticed how he read the Koran every day. She also noticed that whenever he read certain verses, he would become agitated, so she started cutting out whatever he read the night before. Over the two years, she cut a great deal. By the end, Salim was reading all of what he had in only 10 days.

He was becoming holier and holier.

God is good. God is great. We just need to make a few small changes. Though many people are waiting for the director's cut.

After two years, the troupe prospered, and Salome was famous. The guru had become very rich but he was very very unhappy. Salome was renowned for wisdom, and the guru knew that she was a fool. Salome was more and more renowned for her beauty, and his wives and hijra were jealous. Salome was famous, and he was obscure.

All of this made her want to fuck her even more than before, but as she became more famous, she was less and less in danger of any such thing happening.