Glass Barriers
a romantic fiction novel in India by Rolf A. F. Witzsche
Volume 5A of the 12-volume series, The Lodging for the Rose

Page 30
Chapter 3 - Defining the Face of Truth

      "What a wonderful thought," she replied.

      Oh, what a wonderful morning to this was turning out to be! What a sweeping view we had in the bright morning sunshine from her balcony on the 17th floor. Spread out below us one could see almost the entire city, so it seemed. Indira pointed out the Red Fort, the famous red sandstone fort, which she said was built in 1638 to keep out the invaders. The fort had remained to the present day a symbol of Mughal pomp and power. She also pointed out the Jama Masjid, the great mosque of Old Delhi, the largest mosque in India. "It has a courtyard that can hold 25,000 devotees," she said in the manner of a tour guide. "Jama Masjid was built in 1644. It was the last great building of the series of architectural indulgences of Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan is the Mughal emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort," she added. "The mosque has three great gateways," she explained, "four towers and two 135ft high minarets constructed entirely of strips of red sandstone and white marble."

      I leaned over towards her as we were standing on the balcony together. I embraced her momentarily and then interrupted her talk with a kiss.

      "I'll take you to all of these places if you like," she said after the kiss ended, resuming her role of tourist guide. "But first, we'll have breakfast."

      Breakfast was simple. It consisted of two large pieces of the traditional Indian bread with jam, which I am sure wasn't an Indian tradition, but it was good nonetheless. The greatest surprise of the morning, however, was Indira herself. In total contrast to the evening before, when she had been almost totally covered with the long traditional gown that she wore, she stood before me this morning almost totally naked, dressed in an outfit as small as a western bikini. I was puzzled by the contrast. She was dressed so sparsely that her appearance would have challenged the most daring western tradition in provocativeness. She wore tiny black shorts that matched the color of her hair, and a super-short blouse made of white silk that was barely buttoned up and mostly open to the sunshine. "And this is India?" I said to myself.

      "I thought this liberal style of clothing isn't allowed in India," I said to her when I finally got my nerve up to comment on her stunningly beautiful appearance that had been hidden the day before.

      "Do you really mean this?" she asked. "Do you really find me beautiful?"

      "Stunningly beautiful," I replied. "I am captivated by your appearance."

      "But what do you mean, Peter, with beautiful? The word beautiful is such an empty word. What does it stand for in your heart? How do you find me beautiful?"

      I began to smile. "That's an easy one to answer, Indira. I find you beautiful like flowers in spring, or like:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

Those are all my beautiful things.

      "Those lines are from an Oscar Hammerstein song," I added. "Well almost they are. They are from a song that we sang as children when the world was bright and new and rich with promises of discoveries that we couldn't yet imagine, or barely imagined, like:

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodels

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

That's what we considered to be beautiful things.

      "Can you imagine this, Indira? I can still remember those lines. They speak of a beautiful world that we learned love, even if it seemed like a magical world or a world we couldn't quite touch, like:

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Silver white winters that melt into springs

Those set the sage for my beautiful things

      "And we built on those verses, Indira. And now that you asked the question what is beautiful, I find that the building hasn't even begun. Could anyone therefore find you more beautiful?"

      Indira blushed and smiled but said nothing in reply.

      "I hope you are not offended by me saying that. At home in America this would be interpreted as coercion, but it really is the truth if I may be bold enough to say so."

      "I am glad you find me beautiful in this magical way, and more so that it makes you happy," she replied. "But I am also grateful for the opportunity to be seen in this more down-to-earth way as a woman, which is traditionally deemed undignified, even at the beach. The long gown evidently reflects of our Islamic background. I'm a bit of a rebel against that too. Of course being sparsely dressed is OK for tourists," she added and began to grin. "The fact that you, as a tourist, are renting the apartment, makes my down-to-earth dress-style that you find so magical in a beautiful way, 'officially' acceptable."

      I began to laugh. "Reality often appears magical in comparison with what we have made of it over the years, Indira. You just confirmed that. But what did you just say about me renting the apartment? Am I?" I asked astonished.

      "Sure you are. We both are. For the price of a hotel room for two weeks on the diplomatic price-level, we are renting the entire suite for a whole year. Fred suggested that we do this. He didn't tell you, did he?"

      I shook my head and laughed. I figured he might be laughing too, just about this time.

      "I supposed that Fred omitted something else too," she said and joined my laughter. "I bet he didn't tell that our living together makes me officially your wife."

      "And so the magic continues," I said and began to grin.

      "Fred suggested that this arrangement shouldn't surprise you since it reflects the principle of the universal marriage of humanity that you have discovered and are here to prove. So, why shouldn't we live together on this platform as man and weib, as they say in German?"

       "Right!" I agreed. "Why indeed shouldn't we accept what is already firmly established as the reality of our being? Isn't it our privilege to bring the forever established reality to light? However, I wouldn't call us man and weib, or husband and wife as we say in America. These are vertical concepts. They belong to the vertical model, the imperial model of top-down control by which we staged into role-playing. The correct marriage model, that of the universal marriage of mankind, unfolds laterally, in a lateral lattice in which we stand side by side, bound to one another by countless strands of love rather than institutional arrangements. On the lateral platform, the only role that we perform, or can perform, is that of a human being moved by the Principle of Universal Love. I would say we live together here as two human beings bound by nothing but strands of love. This doesn't mean that we can't run a household together. Those are secondary things. The primary demand of the Principle of Universal Love is that we lay aside all vertical models of interrelationships, since they have no foundation in principle. And that's totally new. It might never have happened in all the history of civilization. We are committed to build our lives on the lateral model, which is the very manifestation of the Principle of Universal Love. Do I make sense, Indira? What we have before us is incomparable with anything else. We are entering a brand new world."

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