The Tajik walked toward the small Uzbek town. It was twilight. His red moccasins that carry dirt from China to Uzbekistan, his oversized rucksack. In it he carries homemade instruments for sharpening any type of blade, some of his own invention and some copies of what he'd seen used elsewhere.
He finds the woman's home.
The knives displayed on a cloth on the table. He used simple scissors to sharpen them - both sides at once. The boy watched him from behind his mother's leg. Her rugged face, her crisp beauty. She reheats meat and potatoes for him on the stove. She sent the boy off to bed. The Tajik put down the knife and scissors and came up behind the woman. He placed his hands on her hips. He inhaled the back of her neck. No, she said. He went back to the knives.
When he finished sharpening her knives she watched him eat. His graying beard. His dark mongoloid face. How silney he must be to carry around all those tools, she thought.
He finished his food and nodded at her. He sat with his hands on his knees. He waits for her to come near. She does not want to look him in the eyes, but when she does it is the same feeling as last year. He brings her closer. He lifts her shirt and presses his face against her belly. He remembered how she likes to be screwed.
The next morning he is on his way to the town center where the people expect him. They have laid out their knives in preparation for the Tajik who comes once a year to sharpen every knife in the village. He smiles at seeing the old faces though they speak a different language. He and the woman fought in the morning. She claimed that the food and board was payment enough and she owed him not a cent for the blade work. How can I argue, he thought looking at her face. It reminded him that although men have always done as he told them, women are a different story. But why are they a different story. He kicks at the dirt and says to himself, you hated them once, you know.
He stops just short of the village.
The travails of his life. All the times he was robbed before he took to robbing travelers in order to break even. The face of the young man who died at his hands. The boy's earnestness, his eyes which were not quite cold. The Tajik kneeled at his grave for the rest of that day and made camp nearby when the sun set. He owed the boy no eulogy but he contemplated at his grave a while. When it came to him to keep on going he left the grave of the boy who made such a convincing impression of a killer. A body can't know what hunger will make it do.
The Tajik stands there at a point between where he came from and where he's going. He looks up at the sun that will berate the desert after he is long dead, to which his life's journey holds no significance, his life itself being a series of trips across mountains and deserts and valleys to reach people who have something to trade for his one useful skill. The moments of what he allows himself to call love that after all dot his life's journey. If his death will come at his own hand or the hand of another's. It can not be any other way. It must be at your own hand. You never know when the mood will catch you.