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Books: Nubian Indigo




Old Kertassi had fallen into the habit of sleeping in a different house each night. Moving first around the town, and then, as the weeks passed and the last people left, he found himself beginning to wander further afield, upstream, away from the rising water. It wasn’t that he planned to stay on, he simply kept putting off the date of departure. He had seen most of his family and friends go, and he grew so tired of their imploring him to make haste and join them that when the silence came he found it a great relief. And so it came easily, walking without purpose, unchallenged by any one, in circles that steadily grew wider until he simply began to wander from one house to the next, occupying the homes of the people who had abandoned them, stepping into their shoes, seating himself at their tables, lying in their beds.
In sleep, he imagined himself taking up the lives of those who had abandoned the region. He lost count of the innumerable clusters of whitewashed houses perched upon rocky prows and outcrops, of the villages that stretched out like a strip of discarded snakeskin along the river. He lost count of the corners he turned, the squares, alleys, doorways he passed through. Nor could he recall the number of steps he climbed and descended, the number of greetings he had called out to which he received no reply in return. Nobody saw him slipping through the world like a restless spirit.
Once, he spied a scaly swirl moving through the muddy water, long tail waggling as it slid down the steps on its belly.
Was he alive or dead, he wondered to himself? Was he awake or dreaming?




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