As I waited, I reminisced back to the many journeys I had made on that bus, glancing around to the familiar surroundings that I almost considered my second home. I looked fondly at the grey pavement with cracks the council had promised to fix many a time but, unsurprisingly, had never done so.
The door to Soulville, which is what we called our collectively rented hooch, was open and it was early afternoon.
Rain softened daylight streaming in. And warm, a typical summer monsoon day. Em, which was the only name I knew her by, was near me. She was reading the paper.
I had a Korean bootleg Motown record spinning on the cheap portable player plugged into the extension cord that snaked out the window to some generator source that supplied this small village with a modicum of juice. Did I say village?
The place was erected for one reason, and one reason only, to service the service men stationed on the other side of the road, to supply the base with cheap labor and even cheaper pussy.
I had never fucked Em, and, as it turned out, never would. I remember one wrinkled old sergeant, a hold over from World War II, talking on the base one day about Em sucking his dick, but that was not the Em I knew. It would be many, many years later before I realized that sarge never knew Em.
How can one ever really know a person if one buys that person? If you buy someone, the very act of the sale cuts you off from thinking of that someone as a human equal. Sarge simply consumed the pleasure given by a female body to whom he paid money, a body which kneaded his flesh and opened her flesh to him, made him shudder as her thighs pulled him in or as she sucked him.
Nobody buys pleasure in order to get to know the prostitute.
In fact, the whole purpose of the deal is to remove the need for a human connection while satisfying a desire. In Soulville, just like in all the other hooches, which were usually little more than a large room that doubled as both a living room and a bed room, we took our boots off upon entering.
Even now I like to take my shoes off inside. At the time it was a new thing to me, a difficult thing to get used to, especially with combat boots rather than the slip-ons which most of the Koreans wore.
I looked over at her. We both knew and observed the one rule of Soulville: Soulville was a place to hang out and cool out. So a lot of time was spent in here with Black GIs and Korean women just talking or listening to music.
It was the place where we could relate to each other outside of the flesh connection. From time to time we had parties at Soulville. And of course, some one of us was always hitting on whoever we wanted for the night.
But when it came to getting down to business, you had to vacate the premises. We had had some deep conversations in Soulville. Soulville, man, we had some good times there. Em was getting old.
She had been talking about her childhood and stuff. And when she touched my arm and I looked over at her, I could see a bunch of lines showing up in her face. Most of the time, when you saw the girls it was at night or they had all kinds of make up on their face.
Early in the morning we would hear the village waking up and watch the day unfold. Invariably, one of the girls would stop by to chat for ten or fifteen minutes. Or sometimes, two or three of them would hang out for awhile.
Just like when we was in Soulville we was off duty, well it was the same way for them. And I guess without the stain and strain of a cash transaction clouding the picture, we all got a chance to see a different side of each other.SARAN IS SIX.
His family is new to our small, rural town. He is embarrassed when I ask him about the Hindi he speaks at home. At the parent–teacher interview, Saran’s mother nods while I speak, nods again as the older sister translates.
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