Article by Rose English
Anight with a new lover when the senses are charged and seem to know nothing but the art of making love. To commune with another through the flesh- through desire. Is this not bliss?
After some time we lay together on the big bed and in the soft light of the side lamp we talked, smoked and drank a little brandy. “Now I would like a closer look at you” said Li Yi Bai. His eyes left mine. I held shyness in check and allowed my hidden parts to be examined. He lay beside me again, lit a cigarette and murmured, “You are the same as a Chinese woman.”
I wanted to ask for a close look at him and have, in retrospect, discovered his peculiarity for myself but I lacked the courage. However, after a comfortable silence he said, “Would you like a careful look at my penis? It is a bit unusual and of course to my shame it is unusually small, even for a Chinese, but take a careful look.“ His penis was indeed small but attached to such an enthusiastic lover its size was simply another thing to love about him. I had a good look.
He was compact and attractive. The skin around his relaxed penis was wrinkled and near the top I discovered a hole—sizeable, fairly ragged hole just below his foreskin.
“What happened here?” I said. He pulled the skin taut and I saw how big the hole was; what had caused it?
“I developed a sore on my penis when I was two years old,” he said. “It was very troublesome and wouldn’t heal. It was so bad the penis swelled and things didn’t look good. A local doctor told my parents to tie a duck to my penis and the duck would cure me and that is what was done. The duck ate the infection and left this hole in my skin.”
Every story, every smile, every facet of this highly sexed man was irresistible to me. In the early hours he fell asleep, he was restless, animated and snored loudly. It would be months before he slept silently and peacefully in my arms, legs intertwined with mine.
We returned to the village on the same bus but he sat up front near the driver telling stories, laughing and smoking. Several people near the front of the old steel bus talked and shared stories. They spoke in dialect, descriptive and raw. There was much laughter. When we arrived at our stop we left the bus as strangers along with half a dozen others and I went back to the temple to Lili and Sebastian.
Li Yi Bai had given me a mobile telephone so that we should be able to contact each other. I had never owned a mobile phone before and it wasn’t long before I’d forgotten that Li Yi bai had given it to me and pulled it out.
“You’ve got a phone,” said Sebastian at once.
“Li Yi Bai gave it to me,” I replied automatically.
“You saw Li Yi Bai in Xi’an?”
“We met by chance and had coffee together. He gave me this phone. He said I would find it useful.”
Sebastian had never owned a mobile either. He turned to me puffing on a cigarette; he’d taken up smoking again and was enjoying it. “Yesterday I was accosted by Li Yi Bai’s wife in the market, she wanted to know if you were in Xi’an with her husband. I said you were at the library. She wasn’t friendly.”
And so our lives in the little mountain town developed.
Lili was happy at school. It was a big school of about one thousand children, Lili attended as a normal pupil but she received extra help. She was six and developed friendships with some 11 year old boys who used wait for her after class. Her teacher Lai Laoshi reported this to me and I said that I thought mixed age friendships were a good thing. The older boys faded as she became more integrated with her classmates. She attended the flag raising ceremonies which took place in the playground on Monday mornings at 7.30am. All the students stood in their class groups and saluted while the Chinese flag was raised and the national anthem played over an efficient loud speaker. “I love that tune so much it makes me want to cry,” Lili said one day, “I have this proud feeling when we all stand there and salute.” I was happy she felt proud; a sense of belonging is a good thing. At root, belonging to the Chinese nation must surely be a good feeling. As Lili experienced it then it was a filling and expanding of the heart feeling which generated kind and warm impulses among all her fellow students and teachers.
Sebastian visited the local tailor and had himself made a smart dark blue Chinese suit and he wore it most days. He had made friends with a couple of young male teachers at the school and along with his brother the Chief of Police from our initial drunken banquet, the four of them often met to play pool and drink beer at the far end of town.
I kept an eye on Lili, practiced tai ji every morning, gave pronunciation lessons to the English teachers at school, formed friendships with three female teachers and several pupils and had liaisons at night with Li Yi Bai on the hill above the village. After nearly 12 years of abstinence, I was reborn.
Rose English is a British woman who, if you gave her a museum, she could fill it with her memories.