Thursday, March 22, 2012

Part Twenty, Chapter Five - Congestion

"Sultan" Gris sits and waits on his dais for twenty minutes before the door cracks open and Utanc peeks in.  She eventually slips through, veiled, vested, and wearing billowing pantaloons, her eyes wide with fear.  When Gris motions for her to take a seat she freezes up and nearly flees, and has to spend a minute to muster her courage to move closer.

So there's our riddle for this chapter, how someone with all the courage of a neurotic squirrel managed to complete her Authentic Turkish Belly-Dancer training.

Utanc eventually makes it to her seat and readies her cura irizva - and as far as I can tell, no such instrument exists.  Some of the regional names for the bağlama include the cura and the kopuz irizva, though, so maybe Hubbard made a mistake.  I know, I know, try to rein in your disbelief. 

"O Master," she whispered, and I could barely hear her, "with your permission and at your command, I will sing."

I waved my hand in a lofty fashion.  "Sing!" I commanded.

She flinched and I realized I had spoken too loudly.

And she proceeds to disobey his order, playing her instrument without vocal accompaniment. The limitations of the medium prevent us from properly enjoying Utanc's music, but Gris assures us that it's "BEAUTIFUL!" and he doesn't even like Turkish music.  Once she's finished, the dancing girl shyly asks if there's any recording equipment in the room, and I become suspicious.  What's this about?  Is she secretly a spy?  Why would she ask us that?  But Gris explains that these superstitious Turks believe that a tape recorder can steal a singer's voice - "It proved beyond doubt she was just a Kara Kum desert wanderer, a wild thing."

Really suspicious now.

Well, with Gris' suggestion, Utanc bursts into song and dance.  The short version is: she wiggles her belly, and Gris finds it very attractive.  Now, I wouldn't call myself a belly man, but to each his own.  Apparently this sort of dancing was very popular at certain times in certain places, so obviously some folks are into it.  But having Gris describe it didn't do much to convert me.

At one point Utanc tugs off her veil and starts leaping into the air and yelling.  Gris gushes that he'd "never seen such a face before!" despite sleeping with a photograph of Utanc under his pillow for days now.  And, he tells us in no uncertain terms that "I had never before in my life been so aroused."  Good to know, Gris.  Good to know.

The dance progresses to Utanc jumping around, shrieking like Mario's spastic sister.  Then she lands on her cushion, grabs her instrument, and begins to sing in a "throbbing, passion-congested voice..."  that's too good.  Honey, I am positively congested with passion for you.  Better give me an antihistamine, if you know what I mean.

The nightingale lay trembling
In his brutal hand,
Its throat that pulsed

Why is Utanc speaking English again?

Its that throat that pulsed
With fear,
Was strangled in a moment of coarse passion,
Remember me when I am gone,
If you would kill for love!

It was too much!  I screamed at her, "No!  No!  Oh Gods, I would never kill you!"

That did it.

Too loud!

She cowered back.  She raced to the door, crying out in fear, opened it and was gone!

So the chapter ends with Utanc locked in her reinforced room and Gris staying up all night staring at her door, "aching with passion unfulfilled."

Remember when I complained how Gris was just sitting on his ass watching Heller all day long instead of doing things on his own?  I take it back.  I take all of it back.  Please, please get back on the couch, Gris.  Please tell us all about what Heller wore to class that day.  Please go back to complaining about Heller's baffling behavior.  Please talk about gangsters some more.  Anything but this.

Back to Chapter Four

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