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by Charles Lacey

Chapter 3

A lot has been written about young love. I've never loved a girl, and as far as I know neither has Sanwar. A lot of people might think we were too young for love. Well, Shakespeare's Juliet was just about Sanwar's age or a little younger. But this I know: when two boys fall in love – real love, not just adolescent lust – their love is the purest and most beautiful thing in all the world. It might last a few weeks, it might last a whole lifetime. But who can understand a teenage boy's heart better than another teenage boy? And, indeed, who but another boy can be best aware of what gives him pleasure? So I make no excuse for myself or Sanwar. We'd been, and would continue to be, close friends. Now we were lovers as well. And in the fullness of time we would be partners, hopefully for life.

But we would have to deal with the world; the harsh and unforgiving world that wags a moralizing finger at anything it doesn't want to try to understand. We had to pretend to be just ordinary friends. Poor Sanwar already had quite enough to contend with, dealing with all those who were prejudiced against him because of his skin colour. Mum and Dad were pretty broad-minded, but I didn't know what they would make of their son falling in love with an Indian boy, or any other kind of boy for that matter. What Sanwar's parents would think I had no idea.

The first hint I had came from Grandad, of all people. I'd always liked him, and often wondered how Mum, who could be a bit solemn, was his daughter. Like me, he liked to keep himself fit and active. He wasn't tall, but he was slim and energetic, and over the course of a long life he'd never stopped learning.

He was sleeping in the spare room, but apart from his game leg he was a very active man. Grandad had a fantastic sense of humour, but also a deep understanding of human nature. He'd done a lot of different things in his time. As a young man he'd been a soldier and had served with great bravery in the second world war; he'd seen service in India, Burma and Egypt and been awarded several medals including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Military Cross. When he left the Army he started working as a lorry driver, while he studied for a qualification as an accountant. After qualifying he'd worked for a large accountancy firm for some years, then moved to be the Bursar at Embleton, a public school in Worcestershire. But all the time since he had left the Army he'd also played cricket for enjoyment, representing several good amateur teams. On top of this he was good at practical things, which Dad certainly wasn't! He made himself very useful putting up shelves and repairing things around the house.

But while he was laid up with his broken leg, Grandad had to spend most of the day in the sitting room, and he and Sanwar and I talked together a good bit. When all three of us were there he would look at Sanwar as if trying to remember something. I found it puzzling, because Grandad was as a rule very open and straightforward. But he didn't say anything in explanation, except to reminisce a bit about his time in India; he'd been born there, but of English parents (his father had been an official in the Indian Civil Service) and had lived there until being sent back to England at the age of thirteen to go to a boarding school. Although he hadn't spoken it for fifty years or more he still remembered a few words of Urdu (in which language, to his parents' horror, he had become as fluent as in English), and he managed to string a few sentences together which pleased Sanwar no end.

Each night we would put on our pyjamas and get into our separate beds. But once Mum had looked in to say Goodnight, we'd be naked and wrapped around each other in my bed. Two or three nights into the week, Sanwar had already got into bed and was gazing up at me as I took off my pyjamas (I'd only put them on in case I met Mum on the landing). I was already getting quite a stiffie and as I stood by the bed Sanwar suddenly moved towards me and took it into his mouth. I could feel his tongue running under the head, sliding delicately beneath the foreskin. I stood there, my hands resting on Sanwar's shoulders, transported with both love and lust. I felt his teeth biting the shaft with the greatest gentleness. It was without exception the most arousing experience I had ever had. The inevitable happened, of course, and I pumped cream into his mouth. He swallowed, and then looked up at me, smiling. I got into bed and held him in my arms briefly before flipping back the covers and kneeling beside the bed. I'd no idea what to expect, but there was no way I was going to deny my beloved the pleasure he had just given to me. His foreskin was a little tighter than mine, and I couldn't get my tongue under it without risking hurting him. But I rolled my tongue around it and sucked vigorously. I'd no idea what sort of reaction I would have to his ejaculating in my mouth, but in the end it was simple pleasure.

Something else I noticed while I was down there was the faint scent of his body. It was difficult to define; sweet as roses, yet with something spicy about it as well. The taste of his semen was different from anything I had ever had in my mouth before, different from my own; slightly salty, slightly floury, but because it was his, wholly delightful. I rolled it round my tongue before swallowing.

Already we were getting used to sharing a bed. And, looking back, I can say this with confidence: the sex was wonderful, of course it was, but it was only a part of the feelings we had for each other, and even then probably not the most important part. When I held Sanwar in my arms, I still felt something of the same protectiveness that I'd felt before, but there was something else too, something wild and free, as strong as a lion and as thrilling as a tiger.

All too soon, Sanwar's parents were back in England and he had to go back home. Of course, I'd still see him at school and we'd still walk together. But I wondered how I was going to be able to sleep without him close to me. It wasn't easy, and the first night I scarcely slept at all. Three days later, on my way back from school, Sanwar asked me to come into their flat as his father wanted to see me. As you can imagine, I was greatly alarmed – was I about to get an almighty bollocking? Worse still, where they going to try to separate us? But Sanwar said, "Don't be worried, Jack, Dad likes you." And he looked at me, those lovely eyes sparkling.

Mr Khurana was already there when Sanwar ushered me in. He stood up, smiling, and held out his hand. He had a nice handgrip, warm and dry.

"Please to sit down, Jack," he said. "And won't you take something to eat?"

At his call, Mrs Khurana brought in some dishes with fruit and little sweet biscuits, together with – slightly to my surprise – a pot of English tea. She arranged the things on a little table, smiled at me and then went out. I heard her talking to the two younger children.

"First of all, Jack," said Mr Khurana, "I want to thank you for all you have done for Sanwar. You have been a friend, and more than a friend. How do you thank a young man for having saved your son's life?"

I made modest noises, of course, but secretly I was very pleased.

"When my wife and I got back, we sensed a change in Sanwar. It took us a little while to work out what it was. Sanwar himself did not say anything. But I have seen it before, at home in India. I experienced it, too, when I met Shivani. Jack, I have to ask you this question, and I beg you to answer me truthfully. You love my son, is it not so?"

I was thunderstruck. What was I to say or do? The one thing I could not have done, not for the world, was to deny my love for Sanwar, or his for me, when he was sitting there listening. In the end, I thought, only the truth will do.

"Yes, sir," I said after a long pause, "I do love Sanwar. He is my best friend in all the world."

Here it comes, I thought. But it was not what I expected.

"Thank you for giving me a truthful answer. It is no more than I expected. Jack, our faith teaches us that love is the most important thing in all the world, and in our Scriptures it is written that man may love man, and woman, woman. In our legends and tales there are many accounts of people of the same sex loving one another. Jack, I am sure you know that your love is returned."

Sanwar got up from the stool near to his father and came to sit next to me on the settee, taking my hands in both of his.

"Jack, what you tell to your parents is for you to decide. I have met your mother only once, very briefly, and I know your father only as a fine physician and a wise and generous man. But my wife and I both feel the same about you. We would much, very much rather that our dear Sanwar loves a boy of his own age than that he should run about after girls, making a fool of himself and possibly getting one pregnant. Marriage and a family may come later, who can tell? But for now…"

He stood up and came over to me. I stood too, still holding Sanwar's hand. His father took my other hand in both of his. "Jack, you are welcome in our home at any time. In our country, it is considered proper for a father to give his blessing to his child's love. I give you mine, with all my heart."

I choked up and sat down, rather suddenly, tears in my eyes. Sanwar took out a hankie and dabbed at them. God knows what I'm going to tell my parents, I thought. But at least Sanwar's parents know the truth and approve of our relationship.

By the end of term, Sanwar had not only caught up with the school work he had missed while he was in hospital, but was forging ahead. Actually, he was only a couple of months younger than me as he had a birthday in March while mine was May. Just for the fun of it, I got him to teach me a few phrases in Urdu.

It got noticed at school that we were friends. There were a few snide comments, of course: "Paki-lover" and the like. I quite genuinely couldn't have cared less. Paki-lover, I thought, did you but know. Except of course that Sanwar is Indian rather than Pakistani, Hindu rather than Mohammedan. And he is the most beautiful boy in the world, and we are in love.

The holidays gave us plenty of opportunity to do things together, and I don't mean just sex. We walked a lot, and we talked over school work. We talked about books: we had some tastes in common and we were able to lend books to one another. I was reasonable 'A' stream material, but he was really gifted academically. I can only suppose he'd originally been put in the 'B' stream because his first language was not English, but on many occasions he was able to clarify something for me that I'd not understood properly.

So it was no surprise to find, when the Summer Term began, that he'd been moved to the same form that I was in. This was a tremendous advantage to me – well to both of us, since Sanwar definitely returned my love – as we both had the same homework to do. So we generally went to his parents' flat and did our homework together, and if more than just homework got done, no-one was watching us. Mrs Khurana always knocked at the door and waited for an answer before coming in. I came to like her very much. Shivani – that was her name – was beginning to learn a little English, mostly from her husband, though I believe I helped a little, and I was acquiring at least a few basic phrases in Urdu. She clearly adored Sanwar, as she did all of her children, and wanted only the best for all of them. So she invariably made me welcome, and I never arrived at their flat without being given something to eat and drink.

As far as love-making was concerned, I generally let Sanwar take the lead. Though he could be passionate when aroused, there were times he was content for us just to lie together in each other's arms, or even sit side by side on the settee, an arm around each other. Sometimes, when we sat together in their sitting room, the younger children would join us. I often ended up with Muhajid, the boy, on my lap. It gave me great pleasure that he liked and trusted me, though I had no… well, let us say no improper interest in him. Indeed, as far as I was concerned no-one could hold a candle to Sanwar.

During the Summer term, of course, we played Cricket. While Sanwar shared my complete contempt for football in any of its forms, he enjoyed cricket and was a very competent player; good enough, indeed, to be chosen for school teams. I could have looked at him all day in his Cricket whites. Actually they were mine from the previous summer but they fitted him well. Watching him play revealed something of him that I hadn't noticed before: how graceful he was. When he lifted the bat he was elegant and stylish; when bowling his movements were fluid and supple.

Sanwar's abilities as a cricketer gained him an advantage at school; his skin colour came to be less important to most of the lads than his sporting prowess. But, sadly, there were still a few vocal critics. Things came to a head one day when a great lout named Rickard, from the year above mine, but in the lowest stream, came up to me and said, "I see you're still hanging around with that Paki, then."

"He's not Pakistani", I retorted, "He's Indian, but when he is old enough he will be naturalized English. And his parents aren't Pakistani either, they are from India."

Rickard shrugged his shoulders. "Well, he's a n..… anyway."

I won't write the word Rickard used. It's a very nasty word used for anyone of dark skin colour. It made me so angry I could barely hold myself in. But I had to keep control of myself, or I should have broken his nose for him. Instead I grabbed him by the shirt collar and said, "You'll take that back."

"No I f…ing won't, " he replied, "Anyway, why are you getting so het up about it?"

"Because he's my friend," I said, "and his parents and mine are friends too." I admit I was stretching the truth a bit there, but Dad and Mr Khurana did get on well, though they were at opposite ends of the hospital hierarchy.

"Oh," retorted Rickard, "And is he your boy-friend, then?"

That did it.

"You'll take that back, Rickard, or you'll come outside with me."

He just sneered. He was a good bit taller and heavier than I was, as well as being a year older; it was obvious that he thought I would not take him on. I followed him outside, and slapped his face, not hard but enough to sting – and enough to make it clear that it was a challenge. He turned around and squared up to me. A circle of interested boys formed around us, chanting "Fight! Fight!"

I let him get a few jabs in on my chest and arms, just to give him the idea that I was easy game. I poked a couple of return shots at him, but held myself in check until I was ready. Then I let him have a straight right, in the middle of the chest. He went down like a felled tree. I stood back to let him get up and catch his breath, and then he lost his temper, always a bad thing to do. He went for me like a madman, pummelling with both fists. I retaliated with a left and a right to his upper arms, and then feinted with my right and gave him the left, in the same place as before. He went down again.

I don't know how the fight would have ended, probably with me knocking him out cold. But one of the masters came out and separated us.

After that Rickard kept well in the background. He was big and burly, but didn't bother to keep himself fit, so he was out of condition. It didn't do my reputation any harm to have taken on a much bigger boy and knocked him down twice; it certainly established my masculine credentials. And it was generally agreed that I had won the fight.

But if Rickard had been unpleasant about Sanwar, and my friendship with him, there were others who took a very different view. One was Michael Thompson, who was our form captain. He was a big hefty lad with dark curly hair; he was also the captain of the 2nd XV Rugby team. The last I heard of him he was an officer in the Royal Navy. He came up to me one break time and said, "Hi there, Jack. I hear you took on Rickard."

"Yes," I replied, "He was nasty about Sanwar Khurana. I thought I should change his mind for him."

"I'm not surprised. He's full of stupid prejudices like that. Nasty piece of work. I like young Khurana; well done you for sticking up for him."

Two or three other boys said much the same thing, including Mark Burton from the year above me who was a prefect. I was pleased, as I didn't really have any close friends in school, though there were a couple of lads at the gym that I got on well with. Sometimes after working out we'd have a drink and a Kit-Kat or something of that kind. Fred Killian was a stocky, good looking chap with a passion for weight-lifting. I heard he became a boxer and did well for himself. The other was David Thwaites; he was a tall lad with flaming red hair. His passion was football; he came to the gym just to keep fit for when he played in matches. He eventually became a professional and played for several well known teams. With his hair, inevitably he was nicknamed Ginger, or more usually just Ginge.

When he first met them, Sanwar was a bit nervous of them, though as I was with him he wasn't too worried. I explained what had happened to Sanwar and they were both very sympathetic. Fred said, "If you ever find out who did it, just let me know. He won't be wanting to do it again."

Sanwar and I were very discreet at school, of course. Times without number we should have liked to kiss or hug, but we kept it for when we were at his home, or occasionally when out walking if we were sure we wouldn't be seen.

But the big problem of what to do about my parents remained. They'd accepted that we were friends and were happy about it. I'd always been a bit of a loner, and they liked Sanwar. In fact, they liked him a lot better than Fred and Ginge, my friends from the gym. Actually both of them were thoroughly nice friendly guys who wouldn't harm anyone, but they both went to the Secondary Modern school and had local accents – what Mum called 'common voices.' Mum was lovely, I'm not saying any different, and the kindest lady around, but I have to admit that she was a bit of a snob. Sanwar went to St Edmund's and had an 'educated' voice, so he was O.K. as far as she was concerned, even if his Dad was 'only' a porter at the hospital.

In the end, it was Grandad who solved the problem of what to do about my parents. He'd gone back home after his broken leg was healed, but then he'd had a couple of heart attacks, not severe ones but serious enough that he'd needed to stay in hospital.

After the second one Mum and Dad had agreed that he could come and live with us. He put his house on the market. "After all," he said, "there's no point in my rattling around in that great big house on my own. No, my dear, if you are happy to have me here, then I'm more than happy to come. Just tell me if I'm in the way."

Mum and Dad both liked having him around, and since Grannie had died some years previously he'd no particular reason to want to go home again. And he was, as Mum said, "no trouble". He was happy to help with some of the household chores and things like driving me around. Having been a soldier and then a school bursar he was tidy and well organized and it certainly took some of the pressure off my parents to have him to chauffeur me around. And he was very easy to get on with.

He took to Sanwar very quickly, too. A few days after Grandad moved in I brought Sanwar home to meet him again. I took him into the sitting room, and we all chatted for a few minutes. Grandad suddenly went very quiet, which was unlike him.

"Are you alright, Grandad?" I asked.

"I'm sorry, Jack, yes, I'm fine. Never better. It's just that Sanwar suddenly reminded me of someone I knew, many years ago when I was about your age. It's not so much your appearance, Sanwar, but a couple of mannerisms that you are probably not aware of. The lift of your head, and the way you place your fingers together when you are talking to someone. It was a friend I had when I was a boy. But he died… oh, it must be more than fifty years ago now."

And we went on to talk of other things. Sanwar and I continued to go around together. On Tuesday evenings he came to our house and had a meal – Grandad was generally the cook on these occasions – and then we'd go to my room and do our homework, and then usually come downstairs and chat with Grandad until about nine o'clock when he'd get out the car and run Sanwar home.

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