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Udaipur 🕊…#bakchicontour #india (à Udaipur, Rajasthan)

“Aatma, why do you look so sad?”
Aatma turned his gaze away from the sunset and toward his mother. “I wonder how many more of these sunsets I must watch alone. If I will never get to watch the sun set with someone by my side.”
She placed a decorated hand on his son’s shoulder. “My darling, do not worry. You are young, and you will marry.”
“How am I supposed to marry when women make me panic?”
“You are young. We will find the right match.”
Aatma sighed. “There are many beautiful women in India, but when I look at them, I feel like it means nothing to me. I don’t desire to hold women, or touch them, or lie with them to bear children… but I want to marry. What is wrong with me mother?”
His mother watched the sun dip below the water. Below their vantage point, servants were lighting the fires around the kingdom walls. “Perhaps you are a bit slower in coming of age than your brothers were. Perhaps you are still a boy in your heart who has not awakened into a man.”
Aatma furrowed his brow. “But how can I awaken mother?”
“We can consult a swami tomorrow. Or the physician. But perhaps you should go on journey and seek knowledge. When you return from such a journey, your heart should be ready to settle.”
Aatma crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “A journey…”
“Or I could just give you to…” His mother paused, clucked at herself, and waved her hand back and forth. “No. No. So silly.”
Aatma lifted his head. “What is it mother?”
She adjusted her
dupatta. “The kingdom across the river. When we went there for the holiday last month, do you remember Darshan? He sat at our table.”
“Oh yes. The big man who laughed a lot. He was there with his son.”
“Yes,” his mother said with a smile. “He tells lots of jokes. His son kept asking me about you.”
Aatma blinked. “Me?”
“You remember him well?”
Aatma did. “Yes, he had a nice smile. He we had a lovely conversation about poetry. What was his name? S something too right?”
“Shahil. Yes.” His mother gestured and they began to walk together.
“Shahil…that’s right.”
“When were leaving, you went to the bathroom, and Shahil asked if you were married. I said no, and he said if you could not find a bride, he’d marry you. He was quite drunk. It was a joke. I doubt he’d even remember.”
Aatma stopped in his steps. “He said that?”
“Yes. Are you offended, my darling son? Oh, I should have not said anything!”
“No…I’m, rather charmed.” Aatma thumbed his chin. “I wonder if he’d like to travel with me?”
“Oh! Oh wouldn’t that be perfect? An ideal traveling companion. I will talk to your father at once to send word to Darshan first thing in the morning.”
“Oh mother you mean it?”
“Yes. I’d feel much better if you went with someone too.”
Aatma embraced her. “I agree. Oh, my spirits have lifted, mother. My heart feels at peace already.”
“Oh my darling, I am so happy to hear that. All I want is for you to be happy.”

Later that night, Aatma lay awake in bed and thought about Shahil’s odd drunken confession. Marry a man? Was that even possible? You couldn’t conceive a child through such a relationship. But could Aatma find beauty in a man like he could a woman? Aatma thought of Shail’s strong nose and deep brown eyes. Could he grow old and wise with a man? He thought of their conversations about poetry, astronomers, and politics. Could he grow to love a man as he would a woman? Lie with them? Touch them… Aatma remembered the glimpse down Shahil’s shirt as he leaned forward that one time, and tried to picture what was down further. Aatma’s mind wandered, and to his astonishment, found himself becoming quite stimulated and warm…

Across the river, Shahil watched his male companion sleep and told himself he really needed to stop thinking about Aatma. It had been a month, he’d likely never see that man again. His father kept pressuring him to get married too. Ugh, he just wanted to run away from here and write poetry!

Captions are fictional. I don’t know a lot about Indian culture, so if anything in this sounds wrong please let me know how to change it.
This is Udaipur.


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