Ian Iqbal Rashid
Another Country

All this new love of my parent’s countries. We have bought the videotapes together, bought the magazines and books, all the advertisements, clothes, and each others’ responses. We watch the slides of your visit. Your handsome face is tanned surrounded by mango trees, planted above the poverty. The moist beauty—which you think of blowing up and then framing, building into your walls—majesty imposed upon majesty.

Now I watch you watch Sergeant Merrick watch poor Harik Kumar. And follow as the white man’s desire is twisted, manipulated into a brutal beating. You are affected by the actor’s brown sweating body, supple under punishment. What moves you? The pain within the geometry of the body bent? The dignity willed in the motions of refusal? A private fantasy promised, exploding within every bead of sweat? Or is it the knowledge of later: how my body will become supple for you, will curve and bow to your wishes as yours can never quite bend to mine. What moves you then?

My beauty is branded into the color of my skin, my strands of hair thick as snakes, damp with the lushness of all the tropics. My humble penis cheated by the imperial wealth of yours: Hari’s corporal punishment, mine corporeal. Yet this is also part of my desire. Even stroking myself against your absence, I close my eyes and think of England.