The Aphorisms of
ajzelin [ ah jzehl EEN ], (noun) -- touch-lover; someone allowed
to touch your entire body in a non-sexual context at any time and in any
situation or company--this word requires it be mutual on each other's
parts. This blanket permission is rarely given and always a special
It was in the cool of a spring morning
that I came upon the ajzelin
sitting by the fountain near the
bath-house. A noble had perched on its edge, his rich blue robe draped
over the ivory stone. Beside him a servant had her hand on his; she was
dressed in an irimkedi's simpler garb, marked with his colors. At their
feet, leaning against the noble's knee, was a second male, in the sensible
attire of a merchant.
There is a word that encompasses our duty
as Ai-Naidar to condemn in public those behaviors we would not see
repeated. But we believe in balance, and there is another word that
describes our pleasure at sharing our joys openly, so that all Ai-Naidar
might be refreshed. These three were engaged in just this thing, and so I
felt no shame in approaching, in choosing a bench where I could gaze on
them and be eased by the beauty of their trust.
It is a precious thing, to be
, as rare as to be lovers. It is a freer thing also, as the
three demonstrated, resting together by the fountain's cool water.
Touching-love crosses castes far more easily, with fewer complications...
and with no less meaning. Many a poem and song has been written about the
joys of being ajzelin
, and though I had never been so blessed,
seeing them I could just begin to understand. And so I forgot my errand
and became lost in the sight of those fingers on that hand, the press of
cheek against knee, until my spirit felt swollen with a joy too
transcendent for my frail flesh.
The noble met my eyes, then... bowed his
head with a slight, shy smile. It was an exception, that we could gaze on
one another directly and have him look away first, when mine was the lower
caste. But perhaps it mattered not at all, for I was the one humbled.
When I returned to my studio, every item
in it felt unreal to me, though I ran my fingers over the pebbled
parchment and smelled the acrid scent of dried ink. I sat on my
window-seat and closed my eyes, and wiped after a time the tears that
accumulated slowly on their lower edges in perfect beads. Such a gift to
be given, and with such generosity of spirit. My talent paled beside it,
and even my loneliness, grown deep and silent since the death of my wife,
seemed without meaning or context.
I fell asleep on the window-seat and did
not wake until long after dark, when the perfume of spring's
night-blooming blossoms hung dense and sweet in the cool air that drifted
through the windows. And after a time, I went to my desk and I wrote:
Love is the foundation of society.
Then I rested my head in my folded arms,
and did not lift my brush again until morning.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth