‘My father is a very success man,’ Prabaker beamed, proudly, his arm around the older man’s shoulders. I spoke very little Marathi, and Kishan spoke no English, so Prabaker repeated everything in both languages. Hearing the phrase in his own language, Kishan lifted his shirt with a graceful, artless flourish, and patted at his hairy pot-belly. His eyes glittered as he spoke to me, waggling his head all the while in what seemed to be an unnervingly seductive leer. ‘What did he say?’ ‘He wants you to pat his tummies,’ Prabaker explained, grinning. Kishan grinned as widely. ‘I don’t think so.’ ‘Oh, yes, Lin. He wants you to pat his tummies.’ ‘No.’ ‘He really wants you to give it a pat,’ he persisted. ‘Tell him I’m flattered, and I think it’s a fine tummies. But tell him I think I’ll pass, Prabu.’ ‘Just give it a little pat, Lin.’ ‘No,’ I said, more firmly. Kishan’s grin widened, and he raised his eyebrows several times, in encouragement. He still held the shirt up to his chest, exposing the round, hairy paunch. ‘Go on, Lin. A few pats only. It won’t bite you, my father’s tummies.’ Sometimes you have to surrender, Karla said, before you win. And she was right. Surrender is at the heart of the Indian experience. I gave in. Glancing around me, on the deserted track, I reached out and patted the warm and fuzzy belly. Just then, of course, the tall green stalks of millet beside us on the path separated to reveal four dark brown faces. They were young men. They stared at us, their eyes wide with the kind of amazement that’s afraid, appalled, and delighted at the same time.

« Sometimes you have to surrender before you win »

A quote saved on Nov. 5, 2015.


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