The young couple was on vacation, visiting the bustling centre of a fascinating city. It was the height of summer and the fragrant air was alive with entertainment: buskers were playing every sort of music imaginable in any space large enough to accommodate a small crowd. The streets were lively with the chatter of tourists and locals alike.
They were from a small town where everyone knew everyone else and neighbours were quick to judge – and call out – any person who dared to be different. This place was unlike anything she had ever imagined: she had never seen such wonders. Beautiful girls drifted down the streets in free-flowing, sheer dresses that left little to the imagination; handsome young men strutted about, smoking cigarettes and trying their best to look like they didn’t care where they were. Incredible smells wafted from fancy restaurants and little bistros up and down the street. She gaped openly at people of every size, shape and colour just doing their own thing; somehow both entirely oblivious to one another and utterly accepting of one another, all at the same time. Never had she felt so anonymous; so free to just simply ‘be’. It was a world she hadn’t known existed.
They rounded a corner where a busker was just getting ready to start a show: a muscular man with skin as black as ebony was surrounded by several drums that looked – to her naïve and untrained eyes – authentically African. She immediately wanted to stay and listen. Her husband wanted to continue on. “Just for a few moments…” she begged. Grudgingly, he agreed.
When the music started, she was transported: it was a primal beat; impossible to resist. Several girls in the free-flowing dresses she had been admiring earlier began to weave, sway and undulate in the centre of the crowd. She felt her own body answer their call: the pull was irresistible. She was just eagerly putting one foot forward when his hand shot out and grabbed her arm. “What are you doing?!” he hissed, as his eyes shifted from left to right to ensure that no one had seen her about to make a fool of herself. She looked down at her feet, ashamed. “I’m sorry’” she murmured, her cheeks turning a deep crimson as he yanked her away from the dancing, swaying crowd.
Many years have passed since that day when she was nearly transported by a strange, exotic beat. Her hair is greying now. Her husband no longer has to watch her in public: she has learned to behave. The only time she ever dances is in the living room, curtains drawn, when she is all alone. Still, she often thinks about that magical day. In her imagination, where no one can tell her how to conduct herself, she is young, smooth-skinned and unconsciously beautiful: swaying with the girls in the free-flowing dresses to the beat of an African drum, oblivious to everything but the beat pulsing through her body…
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com