by Charles Lacey

Chapter 2

Of course, all the time Sanwar was in hospital he'd been missing school, and he'd have an awful lot of catching up to do. But now that he could walk a few steps and sit up in bed they had a teacher who came round and did at least some basic stuff, and I did a little bit with him when I visited. I had a bad moment when 'Percy' Wilkins, one of the older masters, noticed that I was away every Wednesday afternoon when I was supposed to be watching the matches and supporting the St Edmund's teams, but I explained about Sanwar and visiting him, and for a miracle he accepted it and said that if necessary he'd write me a leave chit for Wednesday afternoons until the end of term. Looking back now I wonder if he was not aware of how fond of Sanwar I was becoming and wanted to give us a bit more of a chance to get together.

We got to the end of term and it was just into the holidays when Mr Hartley said Sanwar could be discharged. They'd taken off his bandages and one of the nurses had given him a rough sort of haircut, but he still had marks down one side of his face. But now that I could see his face properly I realised again just how good-looking he was. I'd only seen him full face twice before, once when he was covered with cuts and grazes and once when he was unconscious and plastered with blood and dirt. I admit that now, seeing his face properly gave me a thrill. And clearly he liked and trusted me too, in spite of my being white and English. It made my blood boil when I thought about those louts tormenting him just because his skin colour was different to theirs. And if I were completely honest, I thought that the soft brown of his Indian complexion was very much more attractive than the blotchy pink and acne spots of the British youths. And he had the sweetest, shyest smile you can imagine, showing a row of small, even white teeth, which melted my heart every time I saw it.

But the first question was how to get him home safely. He wasn't fit to walk and the 'bus was too indirect and unreliable. In the end I spoke to Mum about it and she gave me the money for a taxi. It dropped us off by the block of flats, and I pushed open the door and went in. The lift was out of order, of course, so we had to climb three full flights of stairs. I carried Sanwar's bag, and let him rest his hand in the crook of my other arm, but even so he was out of breath by the time we reached the third floor. A couple of months in hospital doing nothing does leave you pretty weak. I thought maybe he should come to the gym with me when he was able to. I could introduce him to some of the more gentle exercise machines; a treadmill, perhaps, or a rowing machine. Or perhaps he'd enjoy swimming?

His mother opened the door and flung her arms around him. The two younger children, plus one even younger whom I hadn't seen before, stood watching with round eyes. Then Sanwar indicated me and said something in Urdu. His mother again made that gesture, placing her hands together and dipping her head, then she went into the kitchen, children in tow, and came back again with a glass of milk and a little pastry.

Sanwar asked me to sit down and explained that in their culture a welcome guest was always offered refreshment. I sat on the sofa – it was clean, but very shabby – and Sanwar sat next to me. His little brother, whose name I understood to be Muhajid, plonked himself onto my knees and sat there, looking round into my face and sucking his fingers. I put out a hand to Sanwar who took it in his and held it for a long moment. Then I lifted Muhajid off my lap, stood up and told them that I needed to get home as my parents would be expecting me back. I told Sanwar that I'd come and see them in a couple of days, and take him to the shops, and perhaps to the hairdresser as well if there was anything he needed.

And then he did something that I found very touching. He first made that courteous gesture with pressed hands and lowered head. He then flung his arms around my shoulders and held me tightly for a long moment. Well, I was happy to reciprocate as I was becoming more than just fond of Sanwar. It wasn't just that he was a handsome boy, though that he certainly was. But there was something in his personality that appealed deeply to me. It was partly his character and intelligence, but there was also something delicate, perhaps a little feminine, something which made me feel protective. At any rate, I was definitely looking forward to spending more time with him.

So later that week I took Sanwar shopping. He needed some new school stationery to replace the things that had been damaged or lost when he was attacked. I was pretty sure by now that he had been deliberately pushed down the stairs, as his watch and a small amount of money that he'd had on him had gone, and the contents of his school bag had been scattered around and his fountain pen trodden on and broken. He also needed a new pair of trousers and a white shirt for school as the ones he'd had on had been ruined, the trousers torn and scuffed and the shirt covered with blood.

I took him to the shop where Mum buys my school uniform. We asked the assistant for a pair of grey school trousers and told him Sanwar's size, and then when they appeared we went into the fitting room. He asked me to come with him so that I could, as he put it, advise him on the best fit. He took off the jeans he was wearing and I saw his legs for the first time. They were slender, tapering gently from where they emerged from his underpants with nicely shaped calves leading down to his ankles. There was a neat little prominence in the front of his underpants and the suggestion of a nicely rounded little bottom to the rear. For a moment I had to turn my back and slide a hand down to adjust myself, otherwise my rapidly developing erection would have shown. But Sanwar either didn't notice or tactfully ignored it.

Following that we went to W. H. Smith's where he bought a new fountain pen and a bottle of Quink, a notebook and a couple of good quality pencils. Following this we called at the barber's where I usually have my hair cut. I'd had mine done only a couple of weeks before so I just sat and waited. The barber made a start and then, seeing the operation scars, said "You've been in the wars, haven't you, Sonny?" I could see that Sanwar was not quite sure how to respond, so I explained what had happened to him.

"Bloody hell," said the barber, "Makes you think, doesn't it? I didn't think that sort of thing happened in this country. Well, I'll do the best I can for you. You'll have to tell me if it hurts."

He was nice, that barber, and he made a very good neat job of Sanwar's hair. When he'd finished he said, "I can't charge you for this, not after what happened to you. Call it a bit of payback. And Jack, if you meet those little toe-rags again, give them a good thump from me."

Then I had a happy thought.

"Sanwar, how would you like a cup of hot chocolate?"

"I don't know. I've never tried it. But I'd like to try."

"OK. I think the Rose Café, just along here, does a good one. Yes, here we are… Two hot chocolates, please."

"Plain or with cream?"

"Do the full works, please, with cream and marshmallows."

Sanwar loved it! I watched his face as he took his first mouthful and realised just how good it was. I think at home he had pretty plain food, though of course with Indian spices. They were obviously not well off, though there was probably a good deal more sweet stuff in his home than I was used to in mine as my parents, being medical professionals, were very careful about diet. But the sight of Sanwar's face with a chocolate cream moustache was such that I had to restrain myself from kissing him.

But I was in a huge quandary. I couldn't watch over Sanwar the whole time, and I was sure he wouldn't want me to. He had his own life to lead, his family, his school work and, no doubt, his own hobbies and interests. And I knew what some of the other boys at school would make of it, too, and I certainly didn't want to get in one morning to find "Queer" chalked on my locker, or to hear snide remarks in the changing room.

Sanwar returned to school, but was 'off games' for some weeks as it would take time for the bones in his head to knit fully. If he were to get any kind of injury before that process was complete it could have very grave consequences. So I did worry about him. It would only take one blow from one of those thugs to undo all the healing that had taken place since Mr Hartley had operated on him.

And so I got into the habit of walking with him to and from school. It was only a very short detour for me, no more than five minutes extra on my journey, but it was worth every step and every moment for me, just to spend those few minutes in his company. And very delightful company it was. He was quite shy, but had a lovely sense of humour which came out when he was with someone he trusted; droll and witty but never unkind. And he was catching up with his school work at what seemed to me to be a remarkable rate, and could converse intelligently on a good many subjects. Yes, he was well worth spending time with, was Sanwar.

Several times on the way home we passed that same group of louts who had injured him before; there were others as well. The first group had learned the hard way that it was not a good idea to meddle with me, so they contented themselves with jeering and threatening. On my advice, we just passed by, ignoring them as far as possible. There was one occasion on which one of them, positioning himself so that we had to pass close by him, put out a foot to trip Sanwar who, fortunately, saw it just in time. It was easy enough to hook my foot behind his other leg, causing him to fall heavily to his knees. He got up, swearing luridly – cracked knees can be mighty painful – but his main injury was being made to look foolish in front of his mates.

A few days later, I had left Sanwar at the entrance to his parents' flat (I always went upstairs with him as we had never solved the problem of how he came to fall, and once or twice there had been people hanging about that I didn't like the look of) and made my way home, when I was accosted by three more youths. Their leader was a big lad, well over six foot and muscular looking. One was short and chunky, the other scrawny and long-necked with a prominent Adam's apple. The big one got me pinned against a wall while the other two started to perform amateur surgery on my face and chest.

There was only one thing to do, and I did it. A quick and vigorous wrench got my left arm free, and I aimed for the big one's jaw. I heard the click of his teeth as my fist made contact, but I was more conscious of the pain in my knuckles. He went down like a felled ox. His henchmen then went for me with fists flailing. One or two blows made contact, as I was to realize later on when I saw myself in a mirror. But the essence of street fighting is to think on your feet. Gym training doesn't teach you that, but it does give you speed and manoeuvrability. I spread my arms wide, caught their heads and walloped them together as hard as I could. It didn't knock them out but it did daze them for a moment or two, which I used by belting the chunky one in the belly and knocking the skinny one's feet from under him. By now the big one had woken up but was clearly still dazed; fatty was now on his knees puking disgustingly. Bullies are mostly cowards, of course, and the three of them took themselves off, grumbling and threatening.

By the time I got home I was pretty late and Dad was already there. He took a look at me and raised his eyebrows.

"It's alright, Dad," I said, "you remember what the tomcat said?"

"No… tell me?"

"If you think I look rough you should see the other cat."

Dad grinned and ruffled my hair – I do wish he wouldn't! – and I went into the bathroom. I had a big yellow patch which was going to turn into a lovely black eye before long. One cheek was cut and grazed, I had a thick lip and the knuckles on one hand were badly bruised. Mum came in with the first aid kit; I swear the sting of the antiseptic was worse than the original injury. But I'd walked away from the fight on my own two legs. And I'd taken on three great big louts and trounced them. I was a bit proud of that. I admit I'd had had to fight dirty, but I reckoned that at three to one that was justified.

But of course I did have to explain how I had come by my injuries. Dad was concerned, as he felt that they would probably be waiting for me and I might not be so lucky the next time. So each morning he took me to school in the car. We stopped to pick up Sanwar. Going home was more problematic, though, as Dad didn't usually finish at the hospital until well after I left school. It would have been prohibitively expensive to take a taxi every day, so Sanwar and I walked each day to his flat, and then I came on home, keeping a watchful eye open for bullies.

But the problem – for me – of how to look after Sanwar, at least until his injuries were fully healed, was solved in an entirely unexpected way. His paternal grandfather, who still lived in India, died, and as the only surviving son Mr Khurana had to go to India to attend to his memorial – being Hindus, of course, the funeral had to be very shortly after the death – and to deal with his estate. Mrs Khurana wanted very much to go with him as she particularly wanted to visit her father and see old friends and family members. The younger children would go with them so that their grandfather could see them again.

But Sanwar presented a problem for them. Because of his stay in hospital he had already missed several weeks' schooling, and they didn't want him to miss any more. He told me about this; one the same evening I tackled Mum and Dad about it. I explained the situation to them, and then asked, "How would it be if he stayed here while his parents are away?"

There was a long silence. Mum and Dad looked at each other. Then Mum said slowly, "I don't mind, if your father agrees."

Dad gave me a long, slow look that said, What's behind this? He was a shrewd man; indeed, he wouldn't have been much use as a doctor if he weren't. I could see him making up his mind. Then he nodded. "Yes, I can't see any objection. Jack, you see how your friend feels about it tomorrow, and I will speak to his father."

So the next morning I spoke to Sanwar at break time and made my suggestion. To my surprise and delight, he jumped at the idea. He hadn't had any idea what he was going to do, and he hadn't wanted his Mum to have to stay at home just to look after him. Dad had spoken to Mr Khurana, who had agreed after a proper show of reluctance 'to give any trouble to you, Doctor'. And so the morning after that, Dad drove me to the Khuranas' flat where we picked up a suitcase with his clothes and a big carrier bag filled with books, and then on to school. How I concentrated on lessons that day I just don't know, I was so excited about Sanwar coming to stay. It was a great relief to my mind, as well, that he would be safe from attack as Dad would drop us at school in the morning, and we could walk home together each afternoon, and by a slightly more direct route.

Sanwar brought a gift with him, of some of his mother's honey pastries. That went down well with Mum! Indeed, she took to him very readily. After only a couple of days she said to me, "Jack, I like your friend. He's got lovely manners."

We'd put him in the spare room, and he was no trouble at all as a guest. He was naturally neat and tidy. Each evening when we got in we would sit together at the desk in my room and do our homework. It was great having him there, because we could talk over the work as we did it and any number of times he would say something that made a point clearer to me. I'd already begun to realise that he was out of my league intellectually.

As I'd intended, I took Sanwar to the gym. He wasn't ever going to win any strong man competitions, but I felt he needed at least to get more fit. I loved the way he looked; he was like a graceful young animal – perhaps something like a deer or an antelope. I certainly wouldn't have wanted him to turn into a muscle-bound lump. But he did need to recover from his long stay in the hospital and get into better shape.

I spoke to Jim Russell, the manager at the gym and he agreed to let Sanwar come in as my guest as long as it wasn't every day. He was alright, was Jim. Jim the Gym, we all called him, of course. He was not a big man, but he was a very tough one. I was pretty fit, and probably at least thirty years younger than him, but he could still easily beat me weight-lifting. But with that he was also a real gentleman. I explained to him about Sanwar, and like the barber, he wanted to try to make it up to him. I was glad to find that there were people who were naturally kind and generous; it restored my faith in human nature.

Anyway, I started Sanwar off gently on the treadmill, while I took the next one. He looked at me running as if he couldn't believe his eyes. Well, I suppose I was pretty brisk. I generally aimed to do the equivalent of a couple of miles, which usually took about a quarter of an hour. So when we'd done fifteen minutes, I moved him onto a rowing machine while I did weight training. I kept myself busy, but I could sense Sanwar watching me while he rowed. In the changing room afterwards I could see him looking at me… well, I am a little bit proud of my body, which I've worked hard to get into good shape. I've never wanted to be all knotted muscles, like some professional strong men, but I do like to have a nice flat tummy and well defined pectorals and biceps.

Going to the gym was definitely doing Sanwar good. Each time we went there he pushed himself a little harder. I was hoping that before too long we could go swimming. I doubted whether it would be safe for him to dive, but just swimming lengths would go a long way to improving his fitness. I felt protective of him, as if he were my little brother or something. And he was so sweet, always thanking Mum for each meal, and offering to help with washing up and so on. I could see that he was going down very well indeed in that department.

Four days into Sanwar's stay, another unexpected thing happened. Grandad – Mum's father – lived in a village in Staffordshire, about fifty miles away. We saw him pretty often and he and I always got on well. It was partly that we had something of the same sense of humour, and partly that he was… well, I guess the word is Wise. He was a deep thinker and often if I asked his advice he would come up with something I'd not thought of but which proved to be just the right thing to do. And he was about as free from prejudices as any man who ever lived. Yes, Grandad and I were good friends.

But he had broken his leg falling down stairs and the hospital would only discharge him if he had someone to care for him. Grannie had died when I was very young and Auntie Mary, Mum's sister who was the only other family member, didn't have a spare room, so the only realistic option was for him to come and stay with us. Dad and I moved one of the twin beds from the spare room into mine for Sanwar, and Grandad was going to have the spare room in his place. It was a bit of a tight fit, but I was thrilled to bits! Not only to have my friend staying in our house, but actually sleeping in my room, only a few feet away from me.. how blissful could that be?



"Is it really alright? Me sharing your room, I mean?"

"Yes, of course it is. You're very welcome."

"Thank you. You will tell me if I am a nuisance?"

"Yes, but you won't be. It's nice to have company."

That seemed to get him thinking for a while, after which we chatted for a bit more, then got out our books and read. I noticed that he was reading The Lord of the Rings, an interesting choice. I'd enjoyed The Hobbit but got bogged down with Tolkien's deeper works. My book was Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, the same genre but much easier reading.

We'd changed into our night clothes in the bathroom; I don't know whether Sanwar was shy of my seeing him in the nude, but I was concerned that if we changed together in my bedroom he'd see me with an erection. I knew the sight of him without clothes on would result in my cock immediately standing to attention! But as it turned out the sight of him in his striped pyjamas had an entirely unexpected effect on me: it didn't excite me sexually but I felt protective, as if he needed me to care for him. Before I turned out the light I looked over at him. He'd put his book down on the bedside table and was fast asleep, his hair, which was so dark it was almost blue-black, tumbled around his face. He looked so sweet and innocent lying there, it actually made me a bit tearful for a moment. I put out the light, turned over and went to sleep, listening to his steady, quiet breathing.

He was easy to live with, was Sanwar. I'm a bit fussy when it comes to my things, and I do like my desk to be tidy. Sanwar was naturally neat, on top of which he was staying in someone else's house and had instinctive good manners. On the Friday night we'd gone up to my room to get ready for bed; as there was no school the next day Mum said we could sit up and talk till nine-thirty, then half an hour reading until lights out at ten. We'd already got used to doing our homework together. It was a help to both of us, being able to talk it over with one another. My marks certainly improved as a result!

And I'd discovered that conversation with Sanwar was more than just interesting. He had a lively and inquisitive mind, was well informed and had a startlingly good grasp of English, despite its being his second language. I'd sit or lie on my bed, he on the other bed or in the armchair, and we'd talk endlessly. He had a lovely voice to listen to, warm and friendly, and I soon got used to his accent which was very precise with clearly defined consonants. The only thing he couldn't get his tongue around was the English 'th' sound, especially at the end of a word, so he used to talk about having a 'bart' instead of a bath, and so on. When he went to have a 'bart' I wished I had the courage to offer to wash his back.

But Sanwar was definitely getting under my skin. I didn't dare to look too closely at him, in case he got the message that I should have liked to get much closer. My own feelings then were quite confused. On the one hand, I was still very strongly attracted to him, and if I'm honest, fantasized again and again that he, too, might prefer boys to girls. But when I wanked, which I tried to keep to once or twice a week, and his body came into my mind, I would banish him and think of someone else. There were plenty of good-looking lads on TV at that time. Mike Holoway was one such. There was a great TV series called The Tomorrow People in which two episodes had him in a bathing costume. I came close to creaming my pants when I saw those!

On the other hand, it was much more important to me that Sanwar and I should be friends. That was a potential on-going relationship that could last for years. I didn't know whether I should eventually become 'normal', marry and so on, but even if Sanwar grew up, married and had a family I might still be his friend. Such was my thinking at that time.

But if you have someone staying with you, sleeping in the same room, sharing the same table at meals, working at the same desk, you get to know them pretty well. And it was beginning to come to me that Sanwar was not just good looking, he was beautiful. I used to see a lot of boys at school, obviously. Most were just ordinary, some good looking, a few really lovely. And with Sanwar, it wasn't just his nose, which was straight with a little uptilt at the tip, or his full, generous mouth or his big brown eyes, or even his legs or his lovely little round bum. It was the way the whole of him was put together that added up to real beauty. Most of all, I think, I loved his hands. They were firm and capable, with long, sensitive fingers, totally unlike my own square, chunky paws.

So while Sanwar continued to stay at our house, and share my room, I kept my thoughts – and my hands – to myself. We went to the gym together every few days, and I think he was as delighted with his progress as I was. Each time we were there he could take a slightly longer and more rapid session on the treadmill, and I could see that he was able to work gradually harder on the rowing machine. I didn't start him on weight training as Dad had said it might not be good for him to get his blood pressure too high; having sustained brain damage it was always going to be a weakness that had to be allowed for. But he enjoyed the activities he was able to do, and I certainly enjoyed seeing him there. The funny thing was, he seemed to like watching me, too. I confess I did show off a bit; doing weight training I would sometimes pretend to be too hot and take off my T-shirt so that he could see my chest, just in case it was of interest to him. But when we showered we always used separate cubicles. I'd have loved to share with Sanwar, but was always afraid that if we did I'd get an erection and give away what my real feelings were for him, so I shut myself away and drew the curtain across the cubicle, emerging wrapped in my towel. Sanwar was too polite to look when I changed. At least, that was what I thought.

But all the time that Sanwar exercised in the gym he seemed to me to be becoming ever more beautiful. He was slender, lightweight, delicate looking, with perfect skin, soft and warm with no blemish. And he appeared to be completely at ease with me. If nothing else, I suppose he knew that he had no need to fear abuse from me on racial grounds, and he knew that if such abuse came his way from elsewhere he could rely upon my support and, if necessary, protection.

As we talked I occasionally brought up the subject of girls in general, and girl-friends in particular, without eliciting any particular response from Sanwar. I had a vague idea that in his culture marriages were arranged by parents, and the young couples had very little say in it, so perhaps, I thought, he was expecting to be married to a young woman of his parents' choice. Well, I could still be his, or their, friend.

The Khuranas expected to be away for between two and three weeks. We had left it that when they returned they would telephone my parents and arrange to collect Sanwar. I hadn't wanted to think of the future time when he wouldn't be sharing my room. Though it was frustrating in the extreme, not being able to show my true feelings, the thought of not having his company each evening was not a happy one. And, to be fair to myself, it was not only that I thought his body very desirable, but I genuinely enjoyed his company and his conversation. In many ways it was if he was becoming the brother I'd never had, but would have liked.

Sanwar had been with us for twelve days. Again, it was a Friday night, so Mum was relaxed about bedtime. I was lying on my bed in my pyjamas, my back propped up on the pillows. Sanwar, also in his pyjamas and my dressing gown which he'd borrowed as he didn't have one of this own, was in the easy chair, and we were chatting about this and that. We discussed the political situation; the miners and other workers were threatening strike action and the government were shilly-shallying. However, a new potential leader seemed to be emerging, one Margaret Thatcher. We agreed that she was terrifying! We talked about music, where our tastes were fairly similar, and films. I'd seen a good many more than he had, but again we seemed to like the same kind of things. From there the conversation passed to film stars, and thence to girls in general.

I said, "Are there any in particular you like?"

"No, not really," replied Sanwar, looking downwards.

There was a pause, during which he lifted his head and looked at me rather quizzically.

"In fact, I can't see what everyone gets so excited about."

"Oh?" I said.

"Yes. At school half of the boys are always bragging about their girl-friends, what they've done…"

"Or what they want other boys to think they've done…" I put in.

"Yes… or what they hope to do. I think friendship is more important. I suppose when I grow up I will marry and have a family. My parents will most likely arrange that. But I can't see anything very special about being in bed with a girl."

"You'd better not let anyone else at school hear you say that. They'll certainly get the wrong idea about you."

"Or maybe the right one? Oh, Jack, I… I'd much rather…"

He broke off. With his dark skin it was difficult to tell, but I thought he was blushing.

"Yes? You'd much rather?..."

"Jack, will you promise not to be angry if I tell you the truth?"

"Of course. I promise. Besides, I can't think of anything you could say that would make me angry. What is it?"

"Jack, I… you've been so kind to me, looking after me, visiting me in hospital. Now you are even letting me share your own room. I wish there was something I could do for you."

"But, Sanwar, you have. You are doing it now. You're my good friend, and you are keeping me company and talking to me. It's lovely to have you here and I shall be very sorry when you have to go home again.

"But, Jack, is there something more I could do for you, something special? You only have to tell me."

"What kind of thing?"

"Anything you want. Anything your heart desires…" His voice rose in pitch at the end of that phrase, giving it a questioning quality.

Well, I thought, there it is, as plain as you like. He's told me that he's not interested in girls, and that he wants to do something special for me. Come on, Hemming, get yourself together. You know perfectly well what you want.

I rolled off the bed, stood up and held out my arms. Sanwar rose to his feet and moved over to where I was standing. He put his hands on my shoulders. I drew him into my embrace; his hands slid down until they were around my waist. He felt so right there, soft and delicate and vulnerable. He lowered his forehead until it touched my shoulder. Greatly daring, I kissed his hair, as lightly as possible. It was silken, smelling slightly of shampoo. He must have felt the touch of my lips because he lifted his head and looked up at me, his own lips slightly parted. He had such a grave, trusting expression on his face that I was utterly overwhelmed with love. I felt his breath on my chin. Nothing in the world could have prevented my kissing him.

I'd often fantasized about kissing a boy. In fact, I'd often fantasized about kissing Sanwar. All I can say is, the real thing is a million times better than the fantasy. His lips had something of the texture of ripe fruit on a summer's day, soft yet firm, warm and moist. I slipped my tongue between them and felt his advancing to meet mine. They danced around each other, until eventually we both had to come up for air. Sanwar looked at me, a slight smile on his lovely face, his eyes sparkling.

"We needn't tell anyone else," was his surprising comment. "They wouldn't understand. Dear Jack, you can have anything you want. Anything that is mine to give."

Just then I heard Dad's feet on the stairs and we reluctantly separated. He came in to tell us it was nine-thirty and time for lights out. Then he looked curiously first at Sanwar, then at me. As I said before, he was a shrewd man. "Well, as I say, it's bedtime. Not too long, now."

I went to the bathroom first, washed, cleaned my teeth and so on, then came back in my pyjamas and got into bed. Then Sanwar went to the bathroom and came back wearing only his pyjama bottoms. I'd seen his chest and back many times at the gym, but somehow it now looked different, softer and even more beautiful than before. He sat on the edge of my bed, and I put an arm around his body, the palm of my hand resting on his side. He sat very still, looking into the distance for a few moments. Then he stood up, turned around and slid into the bed next to me.

I was conscious of a series of emotions, arranged in layers like a Neapolitan ice cream. The top layer was fear that someone – Mum or Dad – would come in and find us in bed together. Beneath that was excitement, both sexual and emotional. Although I was definitely aroused, I did not yet have a full erection. But the bottom layer was pure love. I was close to the person I loved most in the whole world, the person I now knew I wanted to spend my life with. I put my arms around him and kissed his lips, his eyes, his throat. He murmured into my chest; I couldn't make out the words. One of my hands held him close to me, the other one stroked his back. Then I felt his penis prodding against my belly. My own shaft sprang to attention. Sanwar's hand slid down and grasped it, sliding gently up and down.

I had to know. My own hand went down and felt Sanwar's phallus. It was rigid and pulsating; to my surprise, it was intact. I'd thought all Indians were circumcised, but it was much later I learned that only Mohammedan or Jewish boys were cut; Hindus or Buddhists were left as nature made them. Sanwar's arms came back up and wound themselves around my neck, but only for a moment. He sat up and took off his pyjama bottoms, and then relieved me of my top. Well, there was no point in going halfway, so I took off my own remaining clothes. We slipped back under the covers, kissing and stroking, our penises rubbing together against each other's bellies, becoming steadily more excited. I realised what was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Not that I would have wanted it to stop.

I came first, but only by a few seconds. Sanwar bucked and shuddered against me, his tongue deep in my mouth, his hands grasping my shoulders. We lay back, panting, sated and … to say Happy doesn't fit the bill. Ecstatic? Exultant? I've never been able to find one word that fits the bill. We'd found each other, and nothing else in the world mattered. If Mum had come in at that moment I wouldn't have turned a hair. For the first time I was resting in the arms of my beloved. I wanted to stay that way for ever.

However, we were both also wet and sticky. As it happened, I hadn't had a wank for a couple of days, so my pump was well primed, and I think Sanwar's contribution was if anything even more generous than mine. I hopped out of bed, nipped – still stark naked – into the bathroom and brought back a damp flannel and a towel. It was a good thing Mum wasn't about! Following our love-making there was no way in which I could have sent Sanwar back to his own bed. We lay close together, drowsy and contented, and it didn't take long until we were both asleep.

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