One of those scenes again.
I was surrounded, by smells, flavours lights and sounds. My head was spinning. It was night but there were many, many lamps and torches that lit up the street. The bazaar was packed with people and wherever I turned there was something happening. Someone selling something, someone shouting something. There was the smell of oranges, bananas, ginger and fennel, along with sandalwood and rose. It was night but everything was illuminated.
The boy was only fourteen, perhaps fifteen. He guided me through the street, knowing every part of it, knowing every step he took. He chatted to the merchants and the customers alike and he was at home. I wasn't. I was a stranger, an outsider. I was guided through these strange and overwhelming streets by this boy while I was the odd one out, the one not belonging. Still I knew that this was now my world, the world I had to embrace, I had to understand.
We stopped outside a building at the side of the square. A great crowd had gathered outside the entrance to the tavern, standing and cheering and singing and looking. In the flickering light from the lamps and torches a girl was dancing in the street. The crowd was clapping their hands and a drum was beating.
She was magnificent. She wore only a red, flowing breech cloth, some golden bangles and nothing more. Her olive skin glistened in the light as she moved her slim body to the beating of the drum. She danced of a desire and lust that was deeper than the sea and far, far older than she was.
We stood and stared in awe and I blushed at her display of desire and the pride she seemed to have in her own body, her ability to enchant. The boy turned and smiled a suggestive smile and I thought him too young for this. Then he tugged me along and we walked past the tavern on our journey through the night city.
Another display came up at the far corner of the town square. Another crowd had gathered but there was no signing or clapping hands, just glee and menace. We stopped for a while and saw another girl at the centre of the crowd. This girl was naked, even less clothed than the dancer. She was tied to a pole, her small body pressed to the rough surface of the sturdy pole. A man was standing behind her whipping her exposed skin with his whip.
The girl cried in agony while the crowd smiled and nodded their heads. They enjoyed this. She was just a poor girl being punished and the crowd enjoyed her agony.
Her cries cut through the night and pierced my ears and I almost started to cry out of pity for her. Then the boy tugged at the chain and I felt the iron collar push at my neck as I was led away. I was happy for leaving the brutal scene behind.
The boy smiled a wicked smile as he led us down a narrow street. There was a great throng of people, men in their burnouses crowded the narrow alley and we had to fight our way through. I feared the crowd as I couldn't protect myself against it. My hands turned helplessly in the cuffs behind my back as I tried to free myself from their iron. To no avail. I was bound.
The boy shouted and pushed aside men in front of him and he made a passage through the mass of people. Still he couldn't stop the men from brushing against us, pressing their bodies against us. I felt even more naked as I felt the fabric of their clothes against my exposed skin.
There were faces and bodies around me, smiling faces, evil faces, lustful faces and there were hands that stole a touch, stroked my body, squeezed my breasts.
I was almost screaming in panic as the crowd opened up. The ordeal was over. The boy told me we were close as he led me down a narrow and dark street.
We stopped outside a door and the boy knocked on it.
'Welcome to your new home, meet your owner!' he said with a beaming face.