This time last year I was a mess of sweat and langour, lying on a bed in a hut by a beach. It was too hot to move and too hot to eat and too hot for modest dress so mostly what I did was read books and doze and play with myself. The window was a grill in the wall with a thin cotton scarf pinned over it that billowed in the breeze. When I realised that passersby would be able to see through to my naked body on the bed, my hand between my thighs and my back bridging as I came, I bought another scarf and pinned that up to the corners of the window.
When the air had cooled slightly and it was time for late lunch/ early dinner I would trudge purposefully over stove hot sand, past the pair of stolid cows lurking at the water’s edge, to a restaurant at the far end of the beach. The restaurant was frequented by international Gap Year types and monosyllabic Russian girls who drank beer, smoked Marlboro lights and picked sourly at plates of grilled fish and salad. I ate roti and dal and drank fresh pineapple juice before coating myself in verbena scented mosquito repellent and doing an hour’s work on my film script. When lost in thought I chewed on a biro, listened to the waves, watched dogs running past, weaving through a group of half a dozen shirtless hippie boys doing Capoeria.
The boys’ bellies were flat and bronzed, their thighs lean and long. The girls were less concerned with culturally appropriate modesty than I, and loafed around in bikini tops and sarongs, hair pulled back into high ponytails, eyebrows immaculate. Everywhere I looked I could see collarbones and heavy low- slung breasts, Fishermans trousers pulled down to reveal a glimpse of tanline and Iliac crest, hair dyed gold by six months’ sun and saltwater coiffed, hands planted on the ground and legs arcing into the air. I wiped the sweat from my throat and kicked my shoes off, dug my toes into the sand, feeling it run smooth and warm over the bridge of my foot.
I sat and drank my juice and scribbled imaginary conversations set in a South London semi, before collecting my stuff, leaving rupees on a plastic plate and walking back to my hut. What to do with the rest of the day? There wasn’t much competition. I read a book, and pinned the sagging scarf securely at the window, before shucking off my long- sleeved top and baggy trousers and sliding beneath a single bedsheet. Another afternoon spent dreaming about Iliac crests and low- slung breasts, my hand snaking across my belly and between my sweat- damp thighs.