“Joonam azizam” he whispers again, his voice coming out like a sigh. He rests his cheek against the slope of my neck and my hands slide behind to reach around his waist. We stand, sticking to each other like children. The timidity, the guarded approaches, the raw feelings and gnawing away at each other, all this is gone. Gently he spins me around and we are opposite each other, remembering to be brave, confident in what we have to give.
He reaches and pulls a toothbrush from his pocket, asking if we might first brush our teeth. We slide our feet into the sandals and stand side by side at the basin, our mouths full of foam. The normality of it feels calming. I feel for a minute like we are back at his home. I half expect to hear his mother calling me to begin splitting open a cauliflower or his father shuffling newspapers and clearing his throat.
With the lights out it should be darker. Ordinarily I would need a lamp to be able to read. But tonight extra lighting floods in from the hotel courtyard, overcoming even the thick curtains and sheets of paper taped over the windows. In spite of the voices outside I feel fully alone with him, forgetting about the difficulties of his being here. It makes it easier to face him, to look at his eyes and the shape of his mouth. I realise I still know so little about him, or what we are together here. I know only that men should be with men and women with women. And I know the words he whispers next.
It is strange for me to think of them as the truth. Though I know in some physical way he needs and desires me, it is different from love. I can’t guess at what worth we have to each other. I know only that there is something; something scratching there. We both need someone to look at us, someone to reach out and make a claim. Just for this moment, before the world outside steps in and cuts everything short, we want to linger in the belief we are free to meet a thousand times more and do this again.