Dag 49: Aili

"Namaste. Is it ready?"

"No. Come back seven."

Klockan är fyra. Tre timmar att slå ihjäl. Förutseende nog har han en bok med sig. Nu gäller det bara att hitta en restaurang.

Ett par fotsteg längs Lakeside Main Bazaar börjar ödeskänslan klia i reptilhjärnan. Det är läge att låta intuitionen styra val av restaurang. Och det har med en kvinna att göra. Fem månader sedan sist.

"The Lemon Tree" ett eko från förr, det är det rätta stället. Nästan helt folktomt dock. En ensam kvinna, men det är inte hon. Han resignerar, slår sig ner på uteterrassen, vänt utåt gatan. Beställer mat, börjar läsa boken.

Då och då tittar han upp ur boken. Känslan vill inte ge med sig, men fortfarande ingen ensam kvinna i restaurangen.

Och så plötsligt är hon där, på insidan, två bord bort. Han har inte sett henne komma eller slå sig ner trots att hon sitter vänt mot honom vid ett av de få borden han har i sitt synfält.

Hon är vacker. Slank i kropp och ansikte, proportionerliga bröst, långt halvblont hår, klara ögon och lugn i sättet. Han inspekterar henne oförskämt i omgångar mellan tuggorna och boken, väntar på att hon ska möta hans blick.

Det gör hon aldrig, men han ser att hon ser att han stirrar. Hennes stearinljus fladdrar i draget, dör nästan, stearinet är av dålig kvalitet, hon skyddar lågan med en kupad hand, stryker mjukt längs veken för att stärka lågan.

Hon noterar hans blick ännu en gång, återvänder till sin tidning, ler för sig själv ett melankoliskt leende, en bitter skugga i ögonvrån. Och han vet utan tvekan att det är menat åt honom, åt dem.

Han betalar, reser sig upp, går in till hennes bord, frågar

"Hi. May I join you?"

"Yes, please do," svarar hon. Hennes ögon lika lugna och öppna som han känner sina egna. Allt känns underligt självklart.

Han hämtar sina saker, slår sig ner.

"I’m Stefan," säger han, "from Sweden."

"Aili." Hon uttalar det som "Alley."

"I sat there watching you, and I saw you noticing me."

Hon skrattar kort, avbryter,

"I notice everything. All the time."

"When I saw you care for the flame and smile for yourself, I decided to join you."

"It was nice of you."

"Yeah, well, I have an hour to kill – I’m waiting for a shirt to be embroidered in a store on the other side of the street."

"Oh. An hour to kill," syrligt leende.

"Yes. Nice to meet you. Have you been in Pokara for long?"

"Too long. I came here eleven days ago, I was supposed to go on a trek, but I’m stuck, staying at my hotel meditating and reading, trying to find peace of mind. I hired a sleeping bag and a pair of boots the day I arrived, I’m still paying for them every day."

Nu märker han att lugnet inte känns naturligt. Det verkar påklistrat, som ett manér.

"I’ve been here for four days, but I’ve been sick, so I haven’t done much either. Where are you from?"

"San Francisco."

"Cool. I met a woman from San Fran in Varanasi. Her name was Uma, she was 58 and a vegan anarchist practicing voluntary poverty."

"That’s San Francisco. I’m a psychotherapist and dancer studying healing through art."

Han flinar, börjar, "Take this the wrong way," hon avbryter,

"The wrong way or the right way? Anyway, doesn’t matter."

"The wrong way. What I was to say what that I think that must be the ultimate kliché, being a psychotherapist in California. The only thing more kliché would be being a psychotherapist in New York."

"Thank you for saying that," säger hon med äkta glädje i rösten, om än med en vass biton, "I’ve been thinking about that too. I think maybe I’ve just been acting out the kliché, you know, I have this fantastic life," droppar av sarkasm i hennes röst, "a sea-side apartment in San Fran, studying spiritual healing; something I love, making good money on the side as a secretary at a law firm, and I’m not happy."

"I know what you mean. I’ve had a pretty good career myself; I have a CV, I mean, when I look at it, I wonder, who is this guy. And I was married for eight years, had a good apartment in Gothenburg, everything was kind of rolling, I had a small fortune, not like you have in the states, but pretty good for Swedish standards. Then I had my thirties crisis. Something just broke."

Hon svarar "Yeah. I’m 28 so I’m up for my crisis as well. I feel it, just having two years left until," och låter meningen hänga.

"You’re 28? You look younger. I’m 32."

"You look young as well," återgäldar hon, tillägger sedan tonlöst, "good genes."

"By the way," växlar han, "I’m a good judge of character, I have a really good intuition for this and I must say that your calm doesn’t feel genuine. It feels like a thin cover over something else. How does it feel to you?"

"Well, you could be true. It’s not something I’m aware of, it is something I have acquired, like a survival strategy. In my past I’ve been way too chaotic, going from one extreme to another. I liked it too much, but it got me into deep trouble, I had to contain that. But maybe I’ve just been covering up. I’m starting to get tired of being calm and centered. I miss the extreme."

"Kind of makes you feel alive, right?"

"Yes!" utropar hon, rör snabbt vid hans hand. Han blinkar inte ens.

"Maybe you have to find your synthesis?" föreslår han.

"Yes," börjar hon tveksamt, "but I’m scared, you see," fortsätter tvekande,

"I’m a masochist," låter fortsättningen hänga tillräckligt länge för honom att fylla i,

"I’m a sadist."

En menande tystnad tätnar mellan deras ögon. De har båda lutat sig närmare varandra. Hon fortsätter,

"How do you mean?"

"Actually, I think I’m a sadomasochist," svarar han, varje ord vägt på våg, "I enjoy receiving and inflicting pain, physical and emotional."

"I don’t find any joy in it. Do you really feel joy?"

"Yes," svarar han sakta, fundersamt, "I think so. You know, there’s beauty in suffering. There is, and there is bliss in beauty. And joy, bliss and beauty is mingled in some way, I don’t know."

"But I was struggling. There’s no bliss in that."

"No. But I think of it as ‘striving’, maybe there’s two kinds of pain."

Han förklarar,

"After the divorce I went on a mission. I chucked my whole life out the window, my friends, work, apartment, everything. I was at that place where you have nothing to prove, not even to yourself, and nothing to lose, not even your own image of yourself as a decent person. For half a year I was a total pig. I was in search of a new platform, tried to find some true moral value to base my new life upon by getting rid of all the false ones, that I felt were constructions. I was trying, step-by-step to find and commit the one act that would separate me from humanity, you know, what would render me truly inhuman, what conduct could not possibly be considered human."

"And did you succeed?"

"No. I failed. I chickened out. I met a woman eight months after the divorce, and we had a passionate love affair. It was all-consuming, you know, with her I felt I could actually succeed. And I bailed. Now I’m kind of glad I did.

So, the only thing I know for sure about myself," upprepar han, "is that I strive. I think of life as a series of challenges. I’ve had a life full of security, and my current challenge is to be able to live without it. Or, rather, I’ve realized just a few days ago, to regain it.

I’ve done that my whole life, tried to become more, become something else. So that I will finally be loved. I think my whole life I’ve strived to find something worth striving for. I feel devoid, empty."

"But that’s something," säger hon och rör vid hans hand. Han rör inte en min.

"No. I think striving without a goal is rather pointless. It’s about willingness to be a tool."

"Exactly!" utropar hon och rör vid hans hand igen. Hon kunde lika väl sagt det med ord; ‘jag vill att du rör vid mig’.

"I’ve always thought about it like that," fortsätter hon, ett finger ligger kvar på hans hand, "you know, I’m a healer, that’s when I feel bliss, helping people, healing them."

"I had sex with a guy two weeks ago," hennes röst skorrar av något obestämbart, "more out of compassion than anything else. And I healed him. He said the experience had changed his whole view on life, he cancelled his journey and went back to Canada. But I felt drained, so empty and sad. Depleted. So I came here."

"I think maybe your challenge is to overcome that, to be able to heal without getting drained. I think there’s different kinds of energy, and people don’t need to be healed with chaotic energy. And that’s what I think you’re charged with."

"Yes. I think you’re right. I need to get that under control."

Fast de har mycket att tala om, börjar samtalet avta. Det är sent, det märks på dem båda; rastlöst förbereder de adjö.

"I’ve been totally asocial for the last two weeks," säger hon, "thank you for bringing me out of my solitude."

"Oh, the same goes for me. I’ve been avoiding people since I got here. I’m torn, I want to spend more time with you but I’m feeling very asocial right now."

"So do I," svarar hon.

"Is there any way I could get in contact with you, except for via e-mail?"

"There is this cafe, Monsoon, right by my guest house, Holy Valley Inn, they got excellent coffee, real coffee; french-pressed."

"Ahh, real coffee," säger han njutningsfullt, "I’m a caffeine addict," hon ler, börjar säga något. Han fortsätter, "Then I’ll have breakfast at cafe Monsoon at about, say, eightish?"

"Yeah," svarar hon, "see you tomorrow then!"

"See you!"

De skiljs åt utan vidare åthävor.

Han vaknar riktigt tidigt, duschar, tar med sig båda böckerna och letar upp cafe Monsoon. Han slår sig ner, beställer en liten kanna kaffe.

Någonting är fel denna morgon. Han läser ett citat om Gandhi; "han gjorde sin privata moral till sin offentliga," och inser att han inte själv skulle kunna göra det.

Någonting känns som om det sitter i halsen, i bröstet, något vill ut som sitter riktigt hårt.

Plötsligt vill han inte längre träffa henne. Han vill faktiskt inte vara i närheten av människor alls. Han önskar att bara fly upp i ett berg någonstans.

Han bestämmer sig för att hyra en MC. Han reser sig upp, betalar, lämnar boken till receptionisten, ber honom ge den till "the girl in room #8"

Han tar MC:n ut på en slumpmässig väg, mot bergen, den blir snabbt en jeep-stig, fruktansvärd att köra; grus, stenar och gropar tar all hans uppmärksamhet, han har knappt råd att avnjuta de underbart vackra vyerna över gröna berg, risfält och småbyar. Barnen kommer skrikande ‘hello, hello!’ och blir ytterligare hinder att väja för.

Det gör honom gott. När han kommer tillbaka till hotellet är klumpen glömd, och receptionisten ger honom en lapp med ett menande leende; "A message for you, sir."

"12:45 pm

Stefan, Hello! Sorry to miss you this am. I slept horribly last night & needed to sleep in. Thank you for the book! I am obviously still here + will leave tomorrow for Annapurna Sanctuary. Love to meet tonight if you desire – I will be at my hotel between 6-7 pm & wait for you + will go for dinner on the "main drag" if I miss you.

Love Aili"

"If you desire," underligt ordval tänker han, duschar, sover en timme, byter kläder. Står en stund stilla mitt i rummet, stirrar tomt framför sig, väger för och emot, tar sedan en kondom ur necessären och stoppar i fickan.

Better safe than sorry.

Han knackar på hennes dörr, och de hittar en bra restaurang. Samtalet tar ny fart. De diskuterar hennes trek, självförakt och tidigare älskare.

"You know," säger hon, "I so often connect from the sexual chakra first, and then just hoping for a head chakra connection as well."

"Yes. My ex wife is the only woman I was friends with before anything else, and that held for twelve years. All the others have started out as physical connections, except for the passionate one, but that started out as intellectual because we met over the internet, but intellectual is not the same as friendship."

"No," håller hon med, "it isn’t. I’ve had that kind of relation too."

De är tysta ett ögonblick, förlorade i var sin värld.

"By the way," börjar hon, "we were talking about pain the other day. I’ve been thinking about that. Why do we do these things to ourselves?"

"Well," svarar han, "in my case, It feels like I’ve grabbed myself by the neck and keep rattling myself violently, hoping that it will all come apart at some time. The experiments, the self-loathing, pain, drugs, extreme sex, they’re all ways to come undone. So that hopefully the parts would fall in a new pattern, something I could live with. It’s about killing the old to let something new take its place."

"Yes," tillägger hon mjukt, "I can relate to that. Do you think you will ever succeed?"

"I don’t know. Of course, it’s also a question of following through; I had a spontaneous kundalini experience once. It was during sex with the passionate woman, it was a spiritual thing as well, I felt something stirring in the end of my back, by the pelvis, and it was moving up my spine, and I was terrified. I knew with absolute certainty that if that energy was allowed to reach my brain, I would truly die in some respect. So I aborted, stopped, ran away from it."

"I’ve had a similar experience," svarar hon, "do you know of Ayahuasca?"


"Have you read Carlos Castaneda?"

"I started once, but frankly I found the book boring."

"Well, it’s the only reference people seem to understand. You know, in it, they work with Peyote, well, Ayahuasca is an even more potent drug. It’s not mainly a hallucinogenic, although it can have that effect. What it does... Ayahuasca means ‘dead spirits’ – you ingest the spirits and allow them to work within you. I don’t know why, but I got this calling to go to Peru and work with this shaman. I had three sessions with him. The first was just awful. You know, it’s so potent, you vomit and get sick, I spent twelve hours screaming, shitting on the floor and vomiting. It was horrible.

You know near death experiences when your whole life pass by, and you relive moments? Different people have different experiences. And this was one of those. Somebody said we will die as we have lived. My death is drowning, it felt like I was drowning. And I know that if I don’t change my life, that is how it will be.

Anyway, the thing was that I was taken to the doorway, but I didn’t go through – I fought it, and spent 12 hours just fighting it, scared as hell. That was awful."

"Maybe you weren’t ready," föreslår han.


"I’ve only had one experience with hallucinogenics, I had mushrooms. But there was that point where I, you know, felt system by system shutting down, and you reach that point where you realize that, I can’t move, I can’t talk. If I was about to die now, I couldn’t call for help."

"Yeah, that was it. You better not hesitate then."

"No," fortsätter han, "I realized then that I could not allow myself to be afraid, because if I did, it would go really, really bad."

"Yes. But do you think it will ever stop, the pain?"

"I think it’s like this," säger han och sätter upp ett pekfinger riktat mot hennes bröstkorg, kommenterar i förbigående, "sorry for intruding on your personal space," och trycker in fingret i gropen där precis i gränslandet mellan det neutrala bröstbenet och det erogena slättlandet vars sluttning slutar i bröstens tyngd. Han trycker tillräckligt hårt för att kunna vara säker på att smärtan efteråt kommer att lämna ett eko under hennes bröstvårta, en gnagande påminnelse.

Han håller kvar fingret, ser henne i ögonen,

"You feel this? It’s uncomfortable, but you can live with it. After a while, it becomes pain. Either you move to escape it, or you learn to live with it. If the cost of removing the pain is bigger than the pain, you’d be stupid to move. If the cost is lesser, you’d be stupid not to."

Han tar ner fingret.

"So," säger hon, "what you’re saying is that we build up frustrations until we move?"


"But the pain always comes back. Or, that is what I’m afraid of. That it will come back."

"Look," säger han, gör återigen ett pekfinger, trycker den här gången in den på samma ställe över hennes högra bröst. De två akupressurpunkterna och deras resonanspunkter bildar nu en en sköld över hennes byst, som om han smekt henne ömt och länge mellan och över brösten.

Han håller fingret still, säger

"Now, lean backwards."

Hon lutar sig tillräckligt mycket bakåt för att fingret inte längre ska nudda henne.

"Lean forward."

Hon lutar sig mot hans finger.

"You understand? Now, lean backwards again."

Hon lyder. En halv sekund senare följer han efter med fingret, borrar återigen in det i överdelen av hennes bröstkorg.

"I think it’s like that," konkluderar han.

"So," summerar hon, "you’re always on the run?"

"Yes. Something like that."

Han tar hennes hand, håller den, smeker henne semimekaniskt över knogarna. Plötsligt överväldigas han av en trötthet, känslan att de inte har mer att säga till varandra fyller hans sinne. Dags att sluta prata.

"So, Aili, to be frank, how do you want to end this evening?"

"I’ve been thinking about that."

"Well. I know what I want. I want us to go to your hotel and cuddle up in a corner."

"I think that would be nice, but to be honest, I’m scared of it."

"Actually, so am I."

"It feels like I’m running away, though. Maybe I shouldn’t."

"Maybe you should."

"I know what I want to do to begin with," konstaterar hon,"I want to follow you a bit on the way to your hotel."

"Sounds like a good idea. Let’s do that."

De betalar, börjar promenera mot hans hotell. Efter ett par steg lägger han armen om hennes axlar. Det känns konstlat och inte alls bra, men hon suckar djupt och säger

"Oh, I so needed this," så han låter armen ligga kvar.

De kommer till en vägkrok, hon stannar upp, han vänder sig mot henne.

"This is as far as I want to go."

"Okay," svarar han och drar henne intill sig.

"I’m torn between wanting to go on my trek and staying here, spending time with you."

"I think we’ve done everything we were supposed to do. Tomorrow, you go on your trek, and I go to Kathmandu. I feel it in every bit of my body that we’re not supposed to meet again. But I’m happy we did."

Han kramar henne, innesluter henne, lägger sitt huvud på hennes. De står så en stund.

"Mmm," spinner hon, "you’re comfy!"


Han ler. Det är dags att gå. De håller hand, fingrarna vill inte riktigt lösa sig från varandra trots att de går varsitt steg bort. Det är ganska patetiskt.

De kramas igen, en sista gång, lösgör sig. Återigen vill inte fingrarna samarbeta, men tillslut ger de sig.

"See ya."

"Yeah, good night!"

Han vinkar, vänder sig sedan om och går mot hotellet, motstår en impuls att stoppa de olydiga händerna i fickorna.

När han kommer tillbaka till rummet lägger han tillbaka kondomen i necessären, varken besviken eller lättad. Sover dåligt, vaknar ofta.

Vid sextiden stänger han av väckarklockan innan den ringt, tar en dusch. I duschen inser han att han vill träffa henne en sista gång, så han klär på sig och promenerar bort till Monsoon. På vägen fantiserar han om att hinna ta en snabb frukost innan hon vaknat, knacka på hennes dörr, när hon öppnar ska han passera henne och krypa ner i hennes säng. Hon ska krypa ner bredvid honom, fortfarande sömnvarm.

Han slår sig ner på kaféet, personalen förbereder för dagen. Han beställer ett stadigt frukostpaket och öppnar sin bok.

Han hinner inte läsa en halv sida förrän hon kommer till hans bord, säger

"Good morning."

"Good morning," svarar han, och efter att hon satt sig ner ler han och fortsätter,

"You know, I’m kind of disappointed you came down – I fantasized about knocking on your door, shouting Room service; one warm and comfy Stefan as per order."

"I didn’t want to talk to you this morning. I saw you, and thought, should I turn and go back to my room?"

"Yesterday I felt we were done, but this morning, I felt, No."

"Now I’m glad you did."

Hon beställer sin frukost.

"I hope you don’t mind me being frank, but," börjar han,

"I’m a bit surprised, because, you know, we talked about connecting on different levels last night. I must admit that I don’t feel we’ve connected at all. It’s all just words, no substance."

"I do," kontrar hon, "I feel it’s on a very spiritual level, though. It’s clear, pristine."

"I think you could be right," erkänner han, "I might just not have the eyes to see with."

"Sometimes you know, you feel your life is put on hold, you’re waiting for something to happen, somebody to come along. When that happens, instead of just enjoying yourself and looking forward to it to happen in due time, I get restless. That’s kind of sad."

"Yesterday morning, when I was waiting for you, I had this feeling in my heart, I think I was crying for myself, for how utterly lost I have become."

"The author of the book I’m reading right now says it’s when you’ve reached that feeling of being lost the real healing can begin."

"I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I haven’t accepted it yet. I’m so lost in my impulses. And I’m very good at what I do."

Han sätter händerna ut från tinningarna,

"What do you call those things that you put on horses?"


"Yeah, blinders. When I’m in a serious relationship I put the blinders on, I don’t even see other women. I’m very monogamous."

"So am I," instämmer hon.

"Well, I’ve had the blinders on for five months now," börjar han, "not looked at a woman at all and being rather happy about that, and then, in Varanasi, I went to the train station to buy a ticket. I was in a kind of zen state, just thinking about my plans, so I just barely noticed this attractive woman, I asked her if the empty chair besides her was the end of the line, and then we started talking about our travels, and one thing led to another and in two or three minutes, I had a date for the day after. I was in total shock, you know, like, what the hell happened? I sat crying in the ricksha on the way back to my hotel, like, Oh god will it never end?"

"I think it will. It just takes time."

"Impulses. You know," konstaterar han, "If this was six months ago, we would have had sex last night."

"If it was two weeks ago, yes. But not now."

"If you would’ve wanted to, if you’d been more assertive, then I wouldn’t have stood a chance. I would have been a sitting duck."

Hon sänker huvudet i en sakta nick, allvarliga ögon.

"But I would have felt so empty."

Hon tittar på klockan, den närmar sig nio.

"I’m restless. I’m trying to muster enough energy to act."

"Then it’s time you got going," reser han sig plötsligt upp, konstaterar,

"I think this is, again, the end of line. Time for you to go on your trek."

"Yeah. I hope we meet again. But that’s not up to us, is it?"


De kramas. Den här gången känns det alltigenom bra. Han går, vinkar hejdå, försvinner runt hörnet.

Vid lunch återvänder han för att se om hon är kvar.

Men hon har gett sig av.