Sins From My Balcony

Rayvanny’s Teamo is playing on the screen….Shapu sinia, kiuno kijiko… Ooh my baby teamo… His female dancers move to the song. They are in white tops and trousers whose waists are held by belts made from red ribbons. On their feet are red ankle strap heels. We’re not shown their faces, only their backs. The behind the scenes is all Rayvanny shows us and perhaps that’s all we need to see.

I switch him and his faceless dancers off, pick up my book and go sit on the balcony. I’m reading this psychological thriller by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen called: An Anonymous Girl. The girl is participating in an ethics and morality study. She’s being asked a battery of personal questions that are forcing her to come to terms with herself. “People are motivated to break their moral compasses for a variety of primal reasons:  survival, hate, love, envy, passion, and money,” Dr. Shields, the psychiatrist in charge of the study, is saying. I move to turn the next page but I am distracted.

A youthful woman has just opened her door from the next flat. The flat is thirty meters away, maybe less and she’s in my direct line of vision. She knows if I lift my head from my book, she will be all I see. She’s in a short, pink sequin dress. If it were any shorter it would be a sequin handkerchief. The sequin catches the sun and she lights up like a bonfire. That means I can’t focus on another word of An Anonymous Girl. I lower my book so she can’t tell if I’m reading or observing her but you, dear reader, know exactly what I’m doing.

Her skin is the color of dark chocolate and she’s built like one of Rayvanny’s stanzas. …Shapu sinia, kiuno kijiko… She’s got a mane of thick dark hair that she’s combing. I drop my gaze to where her dress cuts off. Those are good thighs. She’s still combing her hair and this gives my mind ample time to wander. I imagine reading her poetry. No, that’s not what I imagine. I imagine pinning both of her hands to her back and yanking that mane from behind while all my inches throb inside her. I make to yell a hello.

Before I do, I rack my brain wondering why I haven’t seen her before. I’m on my balcony from time to time; hanging my wet clothes on the line, unhanging my dry clothes from the line, reading, sunbathing. I should have seen her. In fact, I have seen her. I just never noticed her because she’s usually in oversized t-shirts and trousers. She has been like the rails on my balcony. They are there but they are unseen but now with that sequin, she has my attention. That’s the advantage women have. A short dress and the world reforms… or is it, ‘manifests’ around them.

I start remembering. I see her often actually. My balcony door is through the kitchen and my kitchen window doesn’t have a curtain. Sometimes when I am making something to eat I will see her braiding her hair, doing laundry, or yelling at this little boy who I take to be her son to behave. I stare at An Anonymous Girl without seeing her – remembering that some days I am in that curtain-less kitchen humming to Rayvanny in just my boxers. Other days I jump out of the shower in a hurry, cover my loins with one hand, and pick my clothes from the line with the other hand.

I get up from my chair and enter the house to take it all in and wonder if I want someone yelling in my house. I find myself watching her from my bedroom window which has a curtain. She’s still combing her hair but then she lifts her gaze to the empty chair on my balcony and turns her back to get in the house. Hmm. Maybe Rayvanny has a point after all. She comes out with a leso tied around her hips, combs her hair for a minute or two, and disappears back into the house.

I pick my book from the balcony, close the door, and go to the sitting room. I put on Rayvanny and his faceless dancers. …Shapu sinia, kiuno kijiko… Ooh my baby teamo… I wonder how God will punish him for undermining his creation’s faces – but perhaps for this particular gender, his work shines from the back. I also wonder if any of those women are ever walking the streets and someone stops them to tell them their backs look familiar?

At around 6 pm when the sun is going down I go to close my bedroom drapes and there is a man standing on her balcony. Now, this man I haven’t seen before. (Or maybe he needs to wear a short, pink sequin dress to jog my memory) He’s in a white vest, grey trousers, and his hair is pristinely combed. He resembles the little boy the sequin dress woman yells at. Nobody needs to tell me that he’s the woman’s husband and the breadwinner of that household.

I close the drapes, flip on the lights, and look into the mirror. I can vividly see one of Dr. Shield’s ethics and morality questions: “You sleep with your neighbor’s wife thinking she’s single only to find out later she has a husband. Do you a) Tell him and deal with the consequences? b) Keep it to yourself and live with the guilt? c) Continue with the affair?”

I jump in the shower the following morning and rinse my eyes a bit longer to wash the coveting from them. Afterward, I don’t run to the balcony with my hand on my loins to get my clothes from the line. They are already folded in my wardrobe. I go to the kitchen to make breakfast while fully dressed and wonder which is the bigger sin, looking at another man’s wife or showing just the backside of women in your music video? I also look at my curtain-less kitchen window and decide it’s high time it got dressed.

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image credit: federica giusti

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