All, all beautiful imperfections.
He caressed his belly, which, in the monstrosity of Udaipur sun was already covered in sweat and his blue shirt stuck around his elaborate waistline, revealing the best kept secrets of middle-age.
The fact that he had started to bald early had hit him with the same temerity as all other facts of his life.
That his wife had been unusually empathetic did little to sooth his nerves. What did she know?
Then he accepted it.
Like he accepted the fact that he had not talked to his father for years. And now he did not know where to begin.
When Kathy said it was time they visited India, he knew she wanted them to visit Udaipur to try to see his father. ‘Honey, we must. Don’t do something you’ll regret the rest of your life. Now is the perfect time.’
Three months later they found themselves standing at Lake Fateh Sagar, overlooking a vast expanse of water.
Kathy’s hand traced his voluptuousness all the way down to the belly button, where it stopped and rested for a few quite moments. He sucked his breath in and held it there until suddenly, to his surprise, she put her hand on his butt. He exhaled noisily.
‘You know this is inappropriate in India.’ And they both laughed.
They were standing at the exact place where he last stood with his father, years ago.
He remembered his pale green shirt and gray pants that would never stay at the waist. Where was he now? How did he look like? Did he miss him? Would he be happy to see him?
All these questions felt as languid as the distant lure of the motorboats. The evening air smelled faintly of chai, chhalli, gasoline and the lake. What’s done is done. Always. When the waves of the sea wash away our sand-castles, we have to get back to work with our buckets. Rebuild. Often from scratch.
When he closed his eyes, with Kathy’s hand still hovering over his butt, he knew what he wanted. Yes, for the first time in a while – he knew exactly what he wanted.